Title   Ou Cleeren te Coop (Search for the image)
Translated title Old Clothes For Sale
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer's drawing of peddlers of old cloth (`oude kleren ventstersí)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description Outside the city walls, two women meet facing each other. The older woman, wearing a matron's cap, has tossed garments over her left shoulder and holds them there with her right arm across her chest. A younger, curly-haired woman stands leaning slightly towards the older woman.
They are deep in conversation. She holds an outstretched pair of pants, one leg in each hand.

Women, who sometimes obtained skirts, bodices, cloaks, housecoats sold used clothing, waistcoats, shirts, and pants at estate auctions and sometimes purchased clothes from people who had outgrown or become tired of their garments. Poor people bought old clothes to wear. Old ragged clothes were also purchased by certain industries, for example, soaking, shredding, and pounding rags made paper into a slurry paste which could be formed into thin sheets and dried. In Delft, there were women known to purchase clothes at auction, who sometimes picked up a painting or two in the bargain. Sellers of old clothes and used household utensils were required to offer their wares in Delft in the "fleamarket" outside the city wall.

People wearing ragged clothing were depicted by a number of Dutch artists, ranging from
Rembrandt's etching of the family begging at a wealthy man's doorway, and his ratcatcher, through a whole series of beggars by Jan van Vliet, and by Adriaen van de Venne as well as
Jacob Matham, to paintings of poor women and orphans getting new clothes at the Municipal Orphanage in Amsterdam. However, the buying and selling of old clothes was not a common subject for artists. Here, again, Bramer breaks new ground, even if referring, somewhat obliquely, to Brebiette's woman selling old shoes, Folio 24, "Cris de Paris".

Conceivably Bramer might have been making a double entendre in depicting the woman holding up the man's pants, suggesting either that she tricked a man out of his pants in a moment of sexual passion or she was usurping masculine prerogatives. There is no apparent visual reference to either possibility, but Bramer was a witty fellow.

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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