Title   Packies kruyen (Search for the image)
Translated title Porter for Packages
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a porter (‘kruier’)

Code of occupational group 97190
Description A man, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and cape or cloak over his shoulder, has hired a young porter to carry the man's packages on the porter's wheelbarrow. The load consists of two bundles wrapped in burlap or canvas, securely tied with cord, and a metal-bound wooden or leather
trunk with a curved lid and metal handle on its side. The boy wears a set of harness straps which fits around his shoulders and pass across and under the handles of the wheelbarrow, indicating it is a heavy load. The boy stands with his knees bent, legs spread apart, and is exerting himself to lift the weight while awaiting instructions from his client.

Porters were needed to help travelers and merchants with their baggage and goods. The occupation* was of low social status, since it required no special skills only a strong back and either a wheelbarrow, cart, or sled.

A number of busy cityscapes depict men transporting goods in wheelbarrows, handcarts, or on sleighs with runners pulled by horses: see Jacob van der Ulft's painting of Amsterdam's old city hall (Amsterdam Historical Museum). But seldom is there the interaction between porter and client as seen in Leonard Bramer's drawing.

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.

  • Otto Naumann's paper on "Labourers and tradesmen in 17th-century Dutch art", originally delivered in 1984 at a symposium sponsored by the Royal Academy in London, explored this motif.

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