Title   Conynnen te coop (Search for the image)
Translated title Rabbits For Sale
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a seller of rabbits (`konijnenverkoopster’)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description The setting is a street in front of a long two-storied building. The building has many double windows with closed wooden shutters on the bottom and diamond-shaped panes of glass on the op above a doorway, a balcony extends beyond a set of windows. A tall woman at the left stands facing a man at the right. In her right hand she holds a number of dressed rabbits by their back feet. With her extended left arm, she hands a rabbit towards her customer. She holds the rabbit's front paws, so its ears dangle down, and the man holds its back paws in his left hand. He points his right index finger at the rabbit. He wears a broad- brimmed hat; has a soft collar at his neck; wears a short coat with full sleeves; and has ribbons tied below his knees at the top of his hose. He looks quite startled and his eyes seek out those of the woman. He leans backwards slightly from the waist. His stance and the bend in his knees suggest that he has been stopped by her as e was walking along the street.

Rabbits were raised and hunted in the Netherlands. They were sold at poulterers' shops, usually dressed with their fur on, but sometimes live. Prepared in the kitchen with onions, spices, and vegetables, they were braised, roasted on a spit, or baked in a pie. Rabbit fur was also used to trim clothing and make cradle bed coverings.

Rabbits and hares can be seen in market scenes, such as the hare held by a female shopper in the painting by a member of the circle of Pieter Aertsen (Hofstra Univeristy Museum), or in paintings of poultry sellers, such as Gerrit Dou's "Poulterer's Shop" (National Gallery, London). Dead rabbits were included in some hunting still lifes, such as Jan Weenix's "Hunting Trophy", formerly in Dresden.

Bramer's drawing might carry with it a double entendre; it is conceivable that the woman is propositioning the man. Rabbits reproduced quickly and thus were sexual symbols. "To chase the hare" was a popular expression for love-play and love-making. Or the drawing might simply be a highly animated narrative account of a farmwoman come into town to peddle dressed rabbits. The presence of the balcony is puzzling; balconies were not a common feature of 17th-century Dutch architecture.

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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