Title   Coopie geen Haart borstels (Search for the image)
Translated title Do You Want To Buy Hearth Brushes?
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramerís drawing of a brush vendor (`borstelverkoperí)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description In a rural village, a man with his back to the viewer carries six or seven whisk brooms over his left shoulder. He extends his right arm and offers a hearth brush to a woman who is facing him. She holds another brush in her left hand, while her right hand fingers test out the bristles.

Stiff bristled brushes of twigs or trimmed straw were sold by itinerant peddlers. Housewives used brushes regularly to sweep wood and peat ash from their hearths as they prepared the fireplace to cook meals. Fireplaces were occasionally used to take the chill off a room, often a problem in damp, windy Holland during late fall, winter, and early spring. But more often, people put up with the cold (wearing slippers and using a foot-warmer or brazier) and reserved the hearth for cooking because fuel was thought to be too expensive to burn needlessly. Even so, with four meals a day, the hearth brush got heavy use.

Brush peddlers appear in Les Cris de Paris (ca. 1640-1641) by Pierre Brebiette and in the 1646 Roman edition by Algardi and Guillain of 80 etchings based on Annibale Carracci, possible sources for Bramer's imagery. The brush peddler is an old image, occurring even in woodcuts for the "Cries of Paris" published ca. 1500, the oldest known series of "cries."*

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.

  • See Karen F. Beall, Kaufraufe und Strassenhandler, Cries and Itinerant Trades, 1975.

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