Title   Akerties (Search for the image)
Translated title Acorns
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramerís drawing of an acorn seller (`verkoopster van akertiesí)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description A young man with a broad-brimmed hat walks across a market square holding a small wicker box under his right arm and two display sticks with "acorns" or decorative neck tassels in his left hand. As he walks, calling out his wares, he passes in front of a young woman seated on the ground who holds one box of similar tassels on her lap. She supports that box with her right hand. With her left hand, she removes a pair of tassels from a box resting next to her on the ground. The young man wears a pair of tassels himself which are knotted just below his plain collar. The facades of tall buildings and a large gateway with double doors in the background suggests a Dutch city location, probably near the municipal market square.

At end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, Dutch men of the merchant and regent classes wore broad, stiffly pleated white millstone ruffs at the neck, quite similar to ones worn by Dutch women of the same social class. Within the first half of the 17th century, fashions changed. Wealthy men began to wear ornate white lace collars, often with small white tassels (known as "acorns") knotted at the throat and hanging down over the chest. Later in the century, men tended to wear plainer white linen, cotton, or muslin fabric collars (but not necessarily lace ones), but they retained the decorative tassels.

Bramer's drawing is unique. No other representation of "acorn" peddlers is known in Dutch paintings or prints, although many portraits of Dutch men show them worn. See, for example, Ferdinand Bol c. 1645 "Portrait of a Young Man at a Window" in Frankfurt, Rembrandt's 1654 portrait of Jan Six in Amsterdam, or Frans Hals' portrait (1652) of Stephanus Geraerdts in Antwerp. "Acorns" are seen increasingly in portraits of men and boys in the 1650's; however, it would be highly unusual for a peddler to wear them. Bramer's peddler is displaying his wares by using himself as a model.

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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