The Vegetable Seller

blevinandwomba
blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

We've discussed Medieval vegetables on the forum before, so I thought some of you might enjoy this. The focus of the article was on the restoration of a 16th. century painting- but I was enjoying looking at the 16th. century vegetable selection.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/search-news/pr-the-vegetable-seller/


I wish they would have done a close-up of the restored painting- the colors are much brighter and clearer, and I think I could have identified more items. I'm really tantalized by what is in her basket- radishes? little crabapples? I'm guessing it's red gooseberries in the bowl behind. Anyone want to chime in?

Comments

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice picture. It was interesting to see so many that we still eat today. I'm not sure, but the fruit in the basket in her hand looks like cherries. The other basket of red fruit looks like grapes to me.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,467 admin

    @blevinandwomba or baby tomatoes. Did they exist in the 16th century or are they a later invention? Now I started wandering: when did tomatoes come to England? to Europe?

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2021

    @Tave I actually hadn't thought of cherries. Don't they look a little big for that, though? I was thinking gooseberries instead of grapes because they aren't in any sort of cluster.

    @jowitt.europe I believe small tomatoes were the original form, but I don't think she would have been selling any kind of tomatoes. I haven't look it up lately, but I'm pretty sure tomatoes were not usually grown in Europe until the late 18th or early 19th century. They were commonly thought to be poisonous.

    edit: and did you notice the purple carrot in the foreground?

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba It would depend on the cherry. I've seen sweet cherries that big. I remember gooseberries being rather small and greenish. But that may have just been the type we had.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2021

    An article about this painting turned up on the newsfeed on my IPad a while back--just tried to find it again, but I can't now. I think it was from the Smithsonian Magazine. Anyway, in that article there was an image you could enlarge on the screen, so I had fun trying to identify the fruits and vegetables too. The red fruit in the basket behind her looks more like grapes the more you enlarge it. But the red fruit in the basket in front of her I'm not sure about. My guess was cherries, because you can sort of make out some stems among the fruit when you enlarge the image, and the fruits have indentations and a slight crease in their tops. If not cherries, maybe small plums of some sort?

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Interesting picture, to see what all they were eating in the 16 century that we have around today. I know it has been discussed how many types and varieties of vegetables and fruits we have lost in modern times.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe The thought crossed my mind that it might be small plums if they're not cherries.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    As for the gooseberries, the ones I grow are red, though I've had the little green ones. I have this variety. https://scenichillfarmnursery.com/products/poorman-gooseberry-plant-12-24-in-tall-ships-fully-rooted-large-sweet-red-berries Hee hee, it's even in a bowl.

    I just can't get behind team grape. Look how the green grapes behind her, under the artichokes, are depicted- and they are still in clusters. Why would you pick the red grapes off individually and put them in a bowl, and leave the green grapes in clusters?

    Now the cherries, the more I look at it, the more it makes sense.

    @MaryRowe are you talking about this painting? https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/joachim-beuckelaer-the-four-elements-earth#

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba No, I meant that same painting that you originally posted. The story was the same too--about the current restoration work. It had before and after photos too, so you could see how the 19th-centuery touch-ups had turned her rather severe expression into a bit of a smile, and how the modern restorers gave her original look back.

    I'm pretty convinced the red fruit in the bowl next to the pitcher are grapes because when you enlarge the image, the fruit are oblong and do look like they are attached to each other--but some do look to be loose, so they could be some kind of large berry too. And what is that green stuff in the basket just above that? Some kind of shoot? Maybe endive?

    But as for the red fruit in the basket she's holding, when you enlarge the image, there is a carefully painted indent on the top and a crease down one side of each little fruit--seems like that has to mean cherry or plum.

    Still trying to find the article I saw.......

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    Just now finally found it!!!!!

    But on my lap top I can't enlarge the image the way I can on my IPad. It's just that same image you posted from English Heritage.


  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    So, I just realized that there is another, much more detailed article about this painting, on the same website- including descriptions of the mystery fruits!

    So, the bowl is not gooseberries- but it's not grapes either! Scroll down and find out!

    And apparently this is not really a realistic scene- it says not all of this would have been in season at the same time.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba So it is cherries in the basket in her hand! Cool. And darn it, I was getting so warm when I added "or some kind of large berry" to my grape guess for the other red fruit--I knew I had seen an oblong red fruit like that in the Jung's catalog, and even considered buying the plant at one point, but now couldn't remember what it was--Cornelian cherry--yep, that's it! But I was totally off base with my endive guess--hazel nuts still in their husks! I never would have thought of that. Guessed right on most everything else though.

    What fun! A fantastic article--love the way you can scroll drown to reveal the restoration bit by bit. I'll probably be playing with this for a while😁....Thanks for finding and posting it!

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This was absolutely fascinating to me!

    We've learned about various artists throughout history in our homeschool studies each year, for the last 10 years. I have a deep appreciation for art now, thanks to learning more about the process of the great artists, how they literally had to make everything, at times, to create something so beautiful. The time, attention to detail, everything about it is just astounding to me.

    And to have it pair up with another love of mine, gardening/growing food! Thank you so much for sharing these articles and making it a game.@blevinandwomba I enjoyed reading all about "The Vegetable Seller."

    It was such fun!😘

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The basket she is holding has strawberries without the stems. In the background I saw walnuts.