Title   Hael noten (Search for the image)
Translated title Nuts Here
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a nut seller (`notenventster’)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description A market woman sits on the handles of her wheelbarrow with her back to the viewer. The supporting straps ordinarily used to lift the wheelbarrow crisscross her back. She talks to a female customer buying nuts. The customer, wearing a long shawl over her shoulders, has lifted up the ends of her apron in both hands. The peddler points her left index finger towards the customer's apron, which is filled with nuts. A can used to measure out the nuts rests on the wheelbarrow. A large municipal building and other buildings can be seen in the background.

Nuts were popular in the Netherlands, eaten as snacks or used in cooking and baking. Walnuts were often served with wine for dessert, but unripe walnuts, picked in June, could also be preserved as pickled or spiced sweetened nutmeats. Chestnuts were sold in the autumn, and were boiled or roasted. While often used as a starchy vegetable or added to stews, chestnut meats could also be coated with sugar syrup as a confectionery item. Nuts were usually sold by the market women who handled fruits and vegetables, although some peddlers specialized in distributing nuts on a door-to-door basis.

Wichmann read the writing on the wheelbarrow as "haesnoten" which he then translated as hazelnuts. Hazelnuts were not grown extensively in Holland during the 17th century, although they were available from Italy. Dutch art offers a number of visual accounts of women purchasing fruits and vegetables from market women, but filling the customer's apron is a unique touch by Bramer.

Nuts appear in still life paintings, notably by Adriaen Coorte who worked in Middelburg and created several small images featuring chestnuts, as well as in larger "banketje" still life paintings by artists such as Osias Beert, the Elder, whose "Fruits, Nuts, Wine and Sweets on a Ledge" is presently in the Heinz family collection and Jan Davidsz de Heem. Hubert van Ravesteyn's "Still Life of Flower, Glass, Stoneware Jug and Walnuts in a Chinese Bowl on a Ledge" (Peter Tillou Works of Art) pays special attention to the texture of walnut shells' interior and outer surfaces as well as to the nutmeats.

Source Donna R. Barnes, Ed D, Street scenes, Leonard Bramer's drawings of seventeenth-century daily life (Hofstra Museum exhibition 1991). Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

Click here for the introductory essay on Bramer's drawings.

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