Breaking point in history of European Spirituality

Breaking point in history of European spirituality, the Beginning of history of Ignorant Modern man:

Pieter Aertsen’s Meat Stall: Divers aspects of the market piece ( PDF)
Ethan Matt Kavaler

Pieter Aertsen’s well-known Meat Stall iņ the collection of the University of Uppsala is often considered a landmark in the development of European art. Bearing the date ‘March 10, 1551‘, it is one of the earliest and most remarkable examples of market painting, that distinctive combination of still life and low life that enjoyed a considerable
vogue throughout Europe into the eighteenth century.

Yet despite several studies of the depictions of market goods and their vendors, this star
tling presentation of victuals remains a puzzling image, a discontinuous point on the smooth curve of traditional art history.1
A copious display of luxury foods dominates the foreground of Aertsen’s painting. Before an open shed we find a side of beef, a ham, the heads of a cow and a pig, and various other butchers’ wares, along with poultry, butter, cheeses, and fish.

A scene from the New Testament, the Flight into Egypt, can be seen in the background through an opening in the rear of the dilapidated stall . Aertsen, however, presents an unusual variation of this theme by showing the Virgin offering alms to a child. Behind the Holy Family a procession of Netherlanders dressed in sixteenth-century attire advances towards the left, presumably headed for the church that is visible through the adjacent aperture in the stall. 2 By contrast, a party is in progress in the inn at the upper right. Two men from the city are celebrating with a pair of women, whose decolletage suggests the pleasures in store.

There is a clear spatial and conceptual opposition between these background scenes between the charity of the Virgin and piety of the churchgoers on the left and the sensual indulgence of the figures on the right.

The original commission or function of the work has not been identified. An Antwerp provenance has been deduced from an unofficial insignia of the city shown above the opening at the left, a rendering of two severed hands referring to a local legend.3

The prominent sign at the right, however, is disappointingly cryptic. It reads: ‘Behind this point there is land for sale, measured either immediately by the rod according to your pleasure, or 154 rods altogether’ ( hier achter is erve te coope tersto(n)t metter roeije( n ) e lek syn gerief oft teenemale 154).

Although we know a good deal about the subsequent history of market paintings, we are less well informed about the origins of the genre. There seem to be no earlier depictions of still life elements that might suggest Aertsen’s Meat Stall in embryonic state.4 The search for Aertsen’s compositional sources can reveal the range of established im-
agery that would have made his painting comprehensible to contemporaries. What were the traditional visual signis that Aertsen exploited in his Uppsala painting?
Historians of Netherlandish painting have based their interpretations on the continuity of iconographie motifs. Less attention has been paid to the variation among images, the changing context in which specific elements appear, and the constantly evolving reception of these paintings as the market piece became a more common and accepted genre.

We may wonder whether the earliest market paintings, which often include religious scenes, elicited different responses than later ones.5
Let us first examine Pieter Aertsen’s Meat Stall before turning briefly to later market scenes.
Not all compositional elements in the Meat Stall are new. Inconspicuous religious scenes overshadowed by genre details had been an established feature in painting and the graphic arts before Aertsen. Best known are depictions of the Ecce Homo by Lucas van Leyden, Herri Bles, and others from the first half of the sixteenth century.6

Early in his career Aertsen painted two versions of this theme, closely following prototypes by Lucas and the so-called Brunswick Monogrammist.7 This type of com-
position challenges the viewer to find the de-emphasized biblical scene hidden among worldly distractions, a metaphor for the choice between the ‘narrow way’ and the ‘broad way’ in life. see The Choice for Spiritual Ethics,Virtues and Uprightness in our times

The contrast between worldly goods displayed in the foreground and a spiritual example set in the background is an important aspect of many market paintings. Julius Held and Georges Marlier first postulated the ethical connotations of these ‘inverted compositions’; several recent articles on market paintings and kitchen scenes have refined this observation, interpreting the art in the context of moralizing literature.8


Note:  A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms

It concerns the Netherlandish artist Pieter Aertsen, a religious painter. When the sacred figurative art began to be contested and destroyed by an extreme Protestant iconoclasm, he changed his residence town and converted his works into genre scene. Very strange ones, indeed, since a scrupulous spectator can discern small holy scenes dissimulated in the background.

His Butcher’s Stall with the Flight into Egypt or A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms, which we have in two copies (1551; Uppsala University Art Collection and North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh) is the most ever disconcerting “Flight into Egypt”.






Rather than versus a certain religious confession, it looks the cryptic protest of an autonomous art, against whatever human foolishness and violence.

Terra Documentary 2015

A visually stunning documentary that reflects human’s relationship to other species on Earth as humanity becomes more and more isolated from Nature.

What, when adopted by Aertsen, might appear an expedient, became a full invention in the works of his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer. He depicted two “Flights into Egypt”. Now in the Rockox House at Antwerp, the former is more traditional.

In the latter, titled The Four Element: Earth. A Fruit and Vegetable Market with the Flight into Egypt in the Background (1560; National Gallery, London), the author develops his uncle’s lesson into a not less striking allegory.

In the composition, we have three levels: a still life, in the foreground; some figures of peasant women and men, in the middle; a country landscape, with the detail of the Holy Family on a bridge across a stream, in the rear on the left. Despite all, between nature and humankind the sacred mystery survived as a subdued link. That is an anomalous example, of what is conventionally called “inverted perspective”. If we consider it well, not a few things on earth do not happen otherwise…

This “inverted perspective” changes the traditional wisdom of man and it opens the door to the modern perpective of earthly knowledge and wisdom being cut off from his Divine Source.

Patinir, Pieter Aertsen, Brueghel were living in the same period and try to find a way to show us what was wrong in their society: Vanity of earthly knowledge

In Revelation Vanity is represented by the Whore of Babylon. On earth this woman here represents all the pride of the world, all the temptations that we are constantly confronted with in our daily lives and to which we often succumb or the woman with the venom of the earthly senses (the serpent), but nature’s love (the earth) comes to her assistance.

In Chapter 13 the beast from the sea is depraved evil come to kill all virtues in the human heart. It derives its strength from the dragon, the poison of earthly wisdom, while the beast with two horns like a lamb and speaking like a dragon is hypocritical earthly holiness in the flesh which prevents the simple soul from’praying to God (the mark on the right hand or the forehead). The number of the beast is the whole of humanity.

Babylón is interpreted as the confusion of earthly senses; the Whore is false earthly wisdom, her golden jewels hypocritical holiness and the cup fuIl of abominations the carnal appetites.



The beast with seven heads is the evil caused by earthly knowledge and wisdom and its rule on earth; its seven heads are the doctrines of earthly wisdom and the seven kings are personal vindictiveness under the guise of holiness.

Ego rules the world: Anti-“God”, Anti-“Humanity”, Anti-“Nature

The story of the Tower of Babel (like that in The Suicide of Saul, Bruegel’s only other painting with an Old Testament subject) was interpreted as an example of pride punished, and that is no doubt what Bruegel intended his painting to illustrate. Moreover, the hectic activity of the engineers, masons and workmen points to a second moral: the futility of much human endeavour. Nimrod’s doomed building was used to illustrate this meaning in Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools. More about the tower of Babel here


Günther Irmscher, for example, suggests Cicero’s De Officiis as the inspiration for these pictures, which he interprets as painted condemnations of illicit behavior.9 Falkenburg relates market scenes to sixteenth-century landscape paintings, which often present a similar moral choice. In the background of many of these panoramic views, small figures follow diverging paths, one leading toward a worldly destination and the other toward a spiritual haven. For Falkenburg the market paintings reflect common
ethical concerns best exemplified by St. Augustine’s contrast between the civitas terrena and civitas dei.10 see also here

A discussion of Aertsen’s Meat Stall must address the sign displayed prominently at the right. There have been no satisfactory interpretations of this announcement beyond the observation that its message directs attention to the Holy Family in the rear. There may, however, be a more cogent explanation for this message, which relates it thematically to the scene of the Virgin’s charity. In the sixteenth century erve , the term for ‘land’ on the sign, also signified ‘inheritance’ ( erfdeel in modern Dutch). It could be used to express Christ’s legacy in particular, that is to say,salvation. The mystic Jan van Ruusbroec used erve with this meaning in several of his religious writings: ‘He has paid your debts and has both bought and received His Father’s legacy with His blood‘ ( [Hi] heeft uwe scout betaelt ende heeft sijns V ade r erve ghecocht ende vercreghen met sinen bloede)11 We also find erve used in this context in a play from the Ghent landjuweel of 1539, the poetry of Anna Bijns, and other writings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.12 Thus the sign in Aertsen’s painting announcing erve te coope performs several functions: it announces that the
plot of land behind the meat stall is for sale; it directs attention to the Holy Family in the background through the phrase ‘Behind this point’; and it suggests through the double meaning of erve that spiritual destiny is at stake, not merely capital holdings.

About 1580 the mystic Hendrik Barrevelt (Hiël) used this idea in a way closely reminiscent of Aertsen’s imagery. In his Hidden Treasure of the Field he states: ‘Thus with St. Paul’s help (that sound within our hearts) let us learn to know and use the time of ignorance for penance and the improvement of our mortal lives. And then, in the final stage of this time [let us] buy the field [den acker koo pen] where the hidden treasure lies buried – Christ’s life, for which we must accept death of the flesh‘.13
Like Hiël, Aertsen may have wished to represent spiritual transformation in the form of a real estate transaction, and it seems likely that most sixteenth-century viewers would have been sensitive to this double meaning. Seeing the Virgin dispensing charity in the background, we are encouraged to read the sign in the context of good works. The ‘legacy for sale’ suggests that we may earn our place in heaven by following the
Virgin’s example. See alsoThe Spiritual Message of Bruegel for our Times

This metaphor may have drawn greater force from the extraordinary land speculation in and around Antwerp at the time. The completion of the new city walls in the late 1540s began a period of intense investment in land. By 1550, the year of the Meat Stall, houses and lots were often resold at a profit soon after their purchase, and an active market had
developed for the sale of taxation rights. Within Antwerp, land values and rents rose to the highest level in the province. As might be expected, considerable objection was voiced by non-investors against what they perceived to be opportunistic exploitation of community resources.14
Aertsen’s reference to spiritual salvation behind the offer of real estate investment may contain an ironic comment on Antwerp business ethics, on the use and misuse of wealth, thereby strengthening the associations of worldliness conveyed by the copious banqueting provisions in the foreground.
If the Meat Stall expresses visually the conflict between material and spiritual values, Aertsen’s unusual metaphor for worldly pursuits still requires explanation. What factors might have induced Aertsen to choose an array of meats and other comestibles as a contrast to his exemplum virtutisi Several writers have noted the dual connotations of the Dutch word vlees, which signifies both animal flesh and the pleasures of the

Further, Kenneth Craig has proposed that the portrayal of meat might have acquired unprecedented significance from a contemporary event. Noticing the date (March 10, 1551) and the insignia of Antwerp on Aertsen’s painting, Craig suggested that the picture had been commissioned by the Antwerp butchers’ guild- to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of their new hall, begun in March 1501. 16
Craig’s thesis was mentioned by Swedish cataloguers of the Uppsala painting and has been tentatively accepted by James Snyder in his survey of the period, Northern Renaissance Art.17 There are, however, a number of problems with this hypothesis, not the least of which is the date. Antwerp citizens rang in the New Year at Easter, not on the First of January. The date inscribed on Aertsen’s picture, March 10, fell before Easter and therefore still belonged to the old year, 1551 . By our modern reckoning, the Meat Stall would be dated 1552 (not 1551) and would mark the fifty-first anniversary of the new Butchers’ Hall, rather than the fiftieth. This would seem a less likely occasion for a commemorative painting.18

In addition, Aertsen’s picture includes many products withinthe purview of competing guilds. Butchers did not sell fowl, butter, meat pies, pretzels, or cheese, let alone fish. Furthermore, the paintings normally commissioned by guilds were altarpieces dedicated to patron saints or depicting biblical episodes relating to the activity of the guilds.19

The imagery of popular culture, however, may help explain the dominance of butchers’ wares in the Meat Stall . Aertsen’s interest in the customs of common people is documented at this time by his depictions of rural life, such as the Peasant Kermis of 1550 in Vienna.20  

In composing the Meat Stall , he may have drawn from a similar stock of unofficial
symbols. In the painting in Uppsala the Virgin and Child appear directly above the herring that lie crossed on a silver platter.

The juxtaposition of meat and fish recalls the well-known imagery of the opposition between Carnival and Lent. The Meat Stall seems to derive its overwhelming emphasis on victuals from this subject, in which luxury foods – meat in particular – stand for the indulgence of the flesh, a characteristic
associated with Carnival. The fish and pretzels in Aertsen’s painting, ascetic fare, belong instead to Lent. Although the herring constitute a small fraction of the goods on display, they nonetheless occupy a privileged position: ritually crossed on a platter directly beneath the Holy Family.21

The pretzels, too, are located strategically: by the window with the church in the distance.22 Much like St. Augustine’s civitas terrena and civitas dei , Carnival and Lent stand for opposing values. Popular imagery associated with these traditional seasons of feasting and fasting provided Aertsen with visual terms for the expression of conventional ethical concepts. He was not the first to use the pictorial language
of popular festivities; like Hieronymous Bosch and others before him, he found a comprehending and appreciative audience.23
The contrast between Carnival meats and Lenten fish was one of the commonplaces of European folk imagery. The Rijksmuseum Meer-manno-Westreenianum in The Hague, for example, owns a manuscript of a fools’ testament, which was to be read on Shrove Tuesday. The document, dating from the mid-sixteenth century, includes a song that presents this rivalry in visual terms .

The musical staves are marked with representations of food: pork chops, chicken, and beer for Carnival, fish, mussels, and dried bread for Lent. Fools’ heads complete the notation.24 Roughly contemporary with this manuscript, Pieter Bruegel’s painting of Carnival and Lent of 1558 depicts personifications of these liturgical periods equipped with appropriate foods.

Carnival rides a beer barrel with a pork chop affixed to its front. He balances a chicken pie on his head and carries a spit holding a chicken, a pig’s head, roast meat and sausages.

Lent, for her part, brandishes herring on a baker’s peel, while she rides a cart littered with pretzels and dried bread.25
This opposition between the traditional foods of the Carnival and Lenten seasons is more explicit in a Flemish woodcut datable to the mid-sixteenth century (fig. 6). The print portrays a battle waged between
armies of Lenten fish and Carnival meats. On the right Carnival has
gained the upper hand. Fish lie disemboweled or impaled on spits and
knives. A platoon of dismembered fowl, cow, and pig parts ready for
consumption, along with sausages and rabbits, survey their victory. At
the left of the woodcut, in contrast, Lent triumphs. A well-disciplined
battalion of fish surrounds a castle, as the defeated chickens, ham hocks,
sausages, and pigs’ feet hang over gallows or turn on spits over roasting
Similar imagery appears in other countries as well. Throughout the
sixteenth century Italian presses produced numerous editions of the Con-
trasto di Carnesciale e Quaresima, in which personifications of Carnival and
Lent each proclaim their own virtues and impugn the character of their
rival.27 The woodcuts in the early Florentine editions represent each li-
turgical period by an illustration of the purchase or preparation of its
appropriate food (figs. 7 and 8). In the Lenten marketplace customers buy
fish displayed on a table, while women offer onions and other humble
produce for sale. The Carnival woodcut depicts a kitchen in which a
well-heeled man sits expectantly at a table holding a jug of wine, while a
servant cooks a chicken at the hearth. On the wall hang other chickens,
plucked, and ready for cooking. Although food does not dominate these
Italian woodcuts, they support the notion that emblematic representation
of Carnival and Lent by their respective foods was a common pictorial
The detailed description of food is also a common device in the
innumerable literary treatments of the rivalry between Carnival and Lent,
of which Rabelais’s version is the best known.28 From the thirteenth
century comes the French fabiiau De Caresme et de Charnage. ‘Baron Char-
nage’ counts among his loyal servants various animals, both live and
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Aert sen’ s Meat Stall
7 Lent, woodcut from ‘ Contrasto dř
Carnesciale et la quaresima’ , Florence
c. ijoo, London , The British Library.
8 Carnival y woodcut from * Contrasto
di Carnesciale et la Quaresima ,
Florence c. ijoo, London, The british
cooked – notably sausages. The retinue of “Baron Caresme’ consists
mostly of fish; his very harness is composed of salmon, lampreys, and the
like.29 A similar battle occurs in the Spanish Book of Good Lope by Juan
Ruiz, which dates from the fourteenth century. ťSir Carnal’ readies his
forces against the advancing ‘Lady Lent’:
As soldiery on foot to hold his foremost battle line,
He set his pullets, partridges, his hares and capons fine
And wild and tame ducks so they might with his fat geese combine r
Then in review he passed them all where roasting fires could shine.
They were the luscious cuts of beef, of goat and suckling pig.
That reared and snorted here and there with cries and squealing big:
Just after them I saw their squires, the smart fried cheeses sprig
Which goad a man to ruddy wine till he takes many a swig.30
‘Lady Lent,’ however, attacks at night with her troops. Joining the her-
ring in their ‘holy hot crusading spree’ is an army of sardines, shad,
saltinon, dogfish, eels, tuna, and shrimp. The field belongs to ‘Lady Lent’.
The Damsels ‘Beef and ‘Bacon Fat’ are hanged on the gallows, while ‘Sir
Carnal’ is brought to prison and ‘commanded then to keep the Lenten
The Bataille et paix du glorieux sainct Pensard à rencontre de Caresme was
performed at Tours in 1485 and at Issoudun around 15 33. 32 Carnival’s
troops are cooks armed with beef, sausages, tripe and similar fare. Lent
sits on a throne adorned with herring and cod. One of his sergeants is
armored with herring and eel. As usual, their allies are drawn from other
fish, as well as cabbages, turnips, and mussels.33 Le testament de Car-
mentranty written about 1 5 40 by Jean ď Abundance, presents Carnival and
Lent once more personified by their foods. Speaking parts are given to
‘Great Pot’, ‘Grease Pan’, ‘Pickled Herring’, ‘Onions’, and ‘Clove of
In the Netherlands there are several instances of this genre. The
Hague manuscript cited above ends with a debate in song between Carni-
val and Lent:
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Fools’ caps, Fools’ caps, let fools feed
Hams and haunches and a capon
The barrel is empty
We’re missing jugs and pots
We need glasses and platters
Cups and pints of all kinds
Bring us the chickens
Here is a fat goose
Eggs in the pan
There won’t come any chickens [from these eggs], no chickens
There won’t come any chickens from these.
Herring, fresh and smoked, we have to eat
Hams and haunches we have to forget
Cod, fresh and dried, haddock must be brought
Mussels and flounder and egg cakes too
We’re covetous of jugs and pots
Oil cakes, fried fish, and figs are sweet
Raisins and nuts, pretzels are good
Turnips and onions we fart freely
Eel and ray are here to visit
With all this Lent thus proceeds, does Lent,
With all this Lent thus proceeds on.35
Once again the texts are constructed around food – the meat, poultry,
eggs, and alcohol of Carnival opposed to the fish, figs, pretzels, turnips,
and onions of Lent. Self-indulgence confronts self-restraint.
A close literary parallel to the choice between moral alternatives
presented in Aertsen’s Meat Stall is the ‘Débat du Poisson et de la Chair’
by the rhétoriqueur Jean Molinet. After several exchanges in which Chair
reveals her intemperate nature and Poisson his piety (the usual sexual
identities are here reversed), Chair asks the reader to decide the winner of
the debate:
God will repay all on Judgment Day
The good and bad according to their due;
We debate in order to determine
Which of us most deserves
To be honored among all creation;
You who know the laws and obligations
Take note and judge according to reason
Which is the better, meat or fish [Chair or Poisson].36
These texts usually recount Carnival’s reluctance to depart when his days
are over. Although some versions conclude with Carnival banishing kill-
joy Lent and prolonging a reign of uninhibited pleasure, in most accounts
Lent emerges victorious, routing Carnival in a triumph of Christian vir-
tue. Thus in a Flemish play of the late sixteenth century, we hear first
from Carnival who delivers his hedonistic monologue.37 Lent makes her
appearance only at the end, in the guise of a nun brandishing a



vanquish her enemy. Similarly in Hieronymous Bosch’s painting Carnival
and Lent , known through copies, the figure of Lent, supporting on her
head a small table with fish, enters upon a crowd of Carnival revelers.
Like the herring in Aertsen’s painting, she is at first easy to overlook,
being greatly outnumbered by her adversaries.38
Although Aertsen’s Meat Stall depicts no battle, it draws on this
traditional imagery of the opposition between Carnival and Lent in its
metaphorical use of food. The date, March 10, was the eighth day of Lent
in 1552 and suggests that Aertsen composed his picture at a time when
imagery of this type was particularly visible. By inscribing ‘March 10’ on
his painting, Aertsen may have wanted to convey this perspective to the
viewer.39 Certainly the contrast between the herring and meat evokes the
end of Carnival and the arrival of Lent with its dietary prohibitions. The
people in the inn have apparently disregarded this injunction by contin-
uing their enjoyment of physical pleasure; they may also have earned
censure by absenting themselves from the procession toward the church,
seen with the Holy Family.
The transition from Carnival to Lent mandated an abrupt curtail-
ment of sensual indulgence. A popular devotional tract of the sixteenth
century, the Consolation of the Soul, tells of the fate in store for those who
shamefully continue their Carnival carousing and fail to attend church
during Lent. We learn of one merry pair whose drinking bout of several
days ended on Ash Wednesday with a mockery of the religious service, in
which one fellow threw ashes wildly at the other. In retribution for this
sacrilege, the ashes solidified on the faces of the tipplers, preventing them
from opening their mouths or eyes.40 Another exemplum tells of Carnival
guests who do not know when to call it a night: ‘Friends were sitting and
eating on Shrove Tuesday until around midnight before Wednesday, and
they had eaten all sorts of foods. Then the cock crowed [announcing Ash
Wednesday], and the host of the house said, ‘Friends, we still have a fat
hen to taste’. And he said, ‘Get up and bring us a fat hen, the one sitting
next to the rooster is surely the fattest’. [The servant] brought this one to
him and the hen was killed. As they were removing the entrails, they
drew out a huge awful worm, so horrible that all present were terrified.
Thus the dining was abandoned. Dear child, honor the holy time’.41
The Lenten diet must have pleased few people who had the means to
eat richer fare. During Aertsen’s years in Antwerp the city government
repeatedly issued ordinances forbidding the eating of meat during Lent.
In 1545 the fine was placed at one hundred gulden. In 1560 not only
butchers, but also pastry bakers, tavern owners, poultry sellers, and res-
taurateurs were included in the prohibition, as they were again in 1 5 66. 42
Nor were violations considered trivial. In 1529 the writer Willem Gna-
pheus was accused of Lenten dietary infractions in The Hague. Gnapheus
attributed the breach to a pregnant woman who, he claimed, had dis-
carded a sausage in his home. The matter, however, did not rest there:
‘The government officials and council members considered this case so
serious, that for two days they abandoned the care of all the other prob-
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lems of the land in order to hold consultations over the sausage. Doctors
of medicine were queried as to whether it was natural for a pregnant
woman to wish to eat meat during Lent’. An order was issued for Gna-
pheus’s arrest, and he thought it best to leave the city.43 Erasmus, too,
suffered reproach for allegedly violating Lenten restrictions, if we credit
the seemingly autobiographical references in his Colloquial
The contrast between Carnival and Lent was a distinction that Aert-
sen’s contemporaries experienced each year. There was no shortage of
visual and textual expressions of this theme, which paralleled ideas in
established religious literature. The opposition between Carnival and
Lent thus had rich associations for people of the sixteenth century. In
Aertsen’s painting, the abundant meat confronts us with our susceptibil-
ity to physical pleasure, whereas the fish, which lie beneath the Holy
Family, remind us of higher obligations. Just as both the fish and the
Holy Family are visually subordinated to the bounty of the meat stall, so
the way of Christ is obscured by the sensual distractions of worldly exist-
How useful is this interpretation of Aertsen’s Meat Stall for under-
standing later paintings of market scenes? The great variety among mar-
ket paintings precludes a general interpretive rule. In Aertsen’s Christ and
the Adulteress in Stockholm (ill. on p. 48), the vendors of vegetables and
fowl in the foreground are reminders of the worldly life, of the way of the
flesh by which many are led astray.45 Aertsen has painted the still life
elements with such sensitivity to their different textures and colors that
the viewer is momentarily seduced by the depiction of material goods
before recognizing the spiritual lesson taught by Christ. In the context of
the story depicted, oblique sexual references carried by objects in the
foreground are not out of place. Onions, for example, were commonly
thought to be aphrodisiacs, and the bird raised by the young man may
have suggested the slang term for copulation, vogelen.A() Nevertheless, nei-
ther the religious scene nor the sexual references are obligatory in paint-
ings showing market goods or those who sell them.
Were market scenes without religious content also understood as
didactic images? Did the appeal to sensual pleasure in these paintings set
the sixteenth-century viewer on guard? Responses to these images were
probably less restricted than usually stated. The prevailing tendency
among art historians has been to relate sexual references in paintings of
market and kitchen scenes to the admonitions of religious writers. Al-
though sermons and other moralizing texts often use imagery similar to
that found in certain paintings, other types of sources reveal additional
values that attached to works of art. There was room for aesthetic appre-
ciation, for awe at the technical skill of Pieter Aertsen and Joachim
Beuckelaer in imitating the appearance of the world’s bounty. There was
also pride in the prosperity of the city and in the fertility of the land and
its workers.
Emmens, Grosjean, and other writers have based their interpreta-
tions on sexual imagery that they identify in market scenes.47 Such refer-
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Aer t sen’ s Meat Stall
enees do occur, though only in certain paintings. They may be conspic-
uous details that physically resemble the genitalia (for example: a phallic
faucet or scrotal purse), or they may be objects with names bearing sexual
connotations (the classic example being the upraised fowl suggesting
vogelen ).48 Sexual allusions occur not only in painting, but in a variety of
cultural artifacts. Misericordia are well-known bearers of sexual and scat-
ological motifs.49 In Lucas van Leyden’s engraving, the Milkmaid , the
genders of the peasant man and woman are echoed in the trees that flank
the scene, as has been observed.50 Similarly, numerous texts of the period
refer to the sexual act and to the reproductive organs in oblique terms
that approach the form of riddles. A Netherlandish parodie calendar for
1528 offers the following forecast: ‘In May there will be a conjunction
with many people. Then archers in many places will be inclined to shoot
upwards at the parrot. The children of Venus will want most to shoot
between two poles for as long as they have arrows in their quiver. . . ’51
A forecast for 1561 reads:
‘And between two lovers, hear this farce,
There will be no discord, come what may,
If one has the spear, the other has the shield.
And what they do will be for pure pleasure.
Thus there will be complete peace; this I affirm…’.52
The metaphors of Venus’s archery competition and of the spear and
shield are easily understood.
We also find sexual puns among the ballades published at Antwerp
by Jan van Doesborch around 1528. Conforming to Rederijker practice,
the editor divides the poems into three groups. Doesborch explains in his
introductory lines that the ‘Foolish Ballades’ are intended ‘to bring plea-
sure and drive away grief and melancholy’, while he promises ‘much fine
counsel and teaching’ to be gained from the ‘Wise Ballades’.53 Though
not entirely consistent, Van Doesborch’s distinction between these two
categories suggests that such poetry could satisfy needs other than moral
These written examples of sexual imagery are neither sources for art
works nor simply evidence for our interpretation of painting, sculpture,
and prints. Rather, they testify to a prevalent feature of the culture, thor-
oughly accepted, and sporadically adapted to market paintings as to other
artistic and literary genres as they arose.
The market paintings of Aertsen and Beuckelaer would have elicited
a range of associations, which varied according to the values and circum-
stances of the individual viewer. Sexual attitudes among the laity seem to
have been freer than ecclesiastical writers would have wished. In the
confessional manual of Master Godschalc Rosemondt (15 17), a sample
penitent declares: ‘I have had naked men and women and other unseemly
figures painted in my house or on glass, and have had pleasure and
delight from these, and have happily gazed on them and thereby incited
myself and others to sin’.54 Rosemondt obviously disapproves of the
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9 Joachim Beuckelaer, Market Scene ,
ij6ß, Valenciennes, Musée des Beaux-
io Couple in the background. Detail
of fig- 9 –
nude in art, yet his choice of this example implies widespread acceptance
of such subjects among less inhibited sectors of society.
A similar conflict of values is revealed by the differing reactions to a
theatrical performance. In Brussels during Lent of 1559 the dramatic
company, the ‘Barefoot Brothers’, presented a play that treated the Fran-
ciscans with less than the respect they considered their due. The deposi-
tions taken when the incident came before the authorities have survived.
As we might expect, testimony on the nature of the play differed accord-
ing to the witness. One of the actors, the rope maker Jan Knibbers, could
see nothing offensive in the farce. He protested that the same piece had
twice been performed by the Brussels Corenbloeme and had taken first
prize. He would never have become involved, he claimed, had he fore-
seen such a reaction.55
The priest Jacop Cammaert gave a less innocent account of the
affair. He believed that the players had intentionally mocked the Francis-
cans, and he declared that such theater should never be performed. The
deposition continues: ‘Asked if others had been offended by the play in
question, he said that he hadn’t known anyone there, and that those who
stood by him had laughed so hard, that he. ..really couldn’t say’.56
The encoding of sexual references in puns or visually ambivalent
forms protected author, actor and artist against accusations of boorish-
ness or dorperheit .57 The disguised form of these sexual messages allows us
to consider the phenomenon as a type of riddle.58 By solving these visual
puzzles, the viewer could temporarily acknowledge the powerful force of
natural drives that were severly inhibited in his culture, and thereby
release the tension caused by this reprèssion.59 Further, by defying the
strictures of his society, he could recapture his relationship to nature; he
could see himself within a wider context than his culture openly permit-
ted. The recognition of the obscene alternative in ambiguous visual
forms might thus be likened to the violation of taboos. This recognition,
like certain aesthetic and intellectual revelations, permits passage between
compartments of experience that have been institutionally isolated from
each other. Thus, the sexual pun or riddle in painting often functions as a
metaphor, asserting unrecognized or unacknowledged relationships
much as do other types of metaphorical imagery.60
Sexual allusions, though, may be more specific. Beuckelaer’s Vegeta-
ble Seller of 1565 in Valenciennes (figs. 9 and 10), for example, seems to
exemplify the * fertility of the land. At the left, behind an imposing pre-
sentation of vegetables and fruits, a peasant man gropes at the breast of a
peasant woman, who bends over a wheelbarrow loaded with turnips and
^cabbages. The aphrodisiac properties of the turnip had been mentioned in
antiquity by Pliny, although continued affirmation of this belief depended
more on the shape of the vegetable than on knowledge of the classics.61
Similarly, the cabbage seems to have borne associations of the womb,
perhaps deriving from its rounded enveloping form. Children were said
to come uyt den kool, much as they are said to emerge from the cabbage
patch today. The saying, still current in Dutch, can be found in literature
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Aert sen’ s Meat Stall
ii Bieter van der Bor cht, Vegetable
Markety engraving, New York, The
Metropolitan Museum of Art , The
Elisha W bitte Isej Collection.
of the early seventeenth century, which likely records an earlier oral
The erotic vignette in Beuckelaer’s Valenciennes painting is a sub-
sidiary event. His primary concern is to depict the bounty of nature for
the visual consumption of the viewer. A print by Pieter van der Borcht
illustrates an urban market scene by a river (fig. 1 1). Vegetables, poultry,
rabbits, butter, and eggs are sold to dignified customers, as more goods
are brought ashore in the background. In the left foreground a peasant
man tries to embrace a peasant woman. This amorous escapade is in-
tended as no more than a light diversion from Van der Borchťs main
theme: the abundance of available goods and the enviable position of
both customer and more modest vendor. As the legend states, ‘The mar-
kets are convenient and necessary for all sorts of people, for both buyers
and sellers find here what they seek’.63 It is no accident that this genre
originated in Antwerp, a city known for the great variety of goods it
offered. Guicciardini found the situation worthy of comment in his De-
scription of 1567: ‘Antwerp is very well provided with foods, for apart
from the foreigners who import from every direction, the providers of
the entire province deliver so much daily by water and over land, that
there is not only an abundance of all sorts of common foods, but there is
also found a great abundance of all sorts of unusual foods. . . As for expen-
sive delicacies for banquets (beyond necessity), one finds here all types of
pleasantries and tidbits from every country that one could want or de-
Many paintings of vegetables, fish, meat, and their vendors can be
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read as images of civic pride in prosperity. In these cases, the peasants, as
well as their produce, are signs of the fertility and abundance of nature,
harvested and at the disposal of the potential urban patrons of Aertsen
and Beuckelaer.
In discussing the work of Pieter Aertsen, we must also consider the
aspect of technical accomplishment. His astonishing skill at representing
the appearance of still-life objects was more than a means to an end.
Aertsen’s illusionistic talent was widely seen as the supreme mark of his
art and praised as such. Van Mander lauds his ability to ‘deceive’ (be-
drieghen) the eye with paint in a passage from his Grondi :
Everything seemed alive, the green with the ripe,
One would almost think to grab it with his hands
Some platters resting in the dark,
Where a lustre is reflected,
As one may see by a favorable flame
In the works of an art lover at Amsterdam.
In sum, in art he was a genius,
In pleasantly rendering reflections,
Indeed, a great adroit and crafty deceiver
Of people’s eyes, and an intelligent liar, as well:
For one thinks he sees all kinds of things,
But it’s only paint, which he knew how to mix,
So that the flat seems round, and the level raised,
The dumb to speak and the dead to live.65
Arnoldus Buchelius cited this passage some years later in his appreciation
of Aertsen. This claimed confusion between an object and its representa-
tion is often cited in discussions of the artist, who is commonly praised
for his ability to deceive.66 Similarly, the Jesuit Carolus Scribani lauds
Beuckelaer’s market paintings in his description of Antwerp of 1610:
‘Varro relates that he knew a certain Possis in Rome who painted grapes
and fish so naturally, that they couldn’t be distinguished from the real
things. What would Varro say if he saw a kitchen piece by Beuckelaer
with apples and vegetables, with fowl, meat, and fish, everything so
deceptively imitated ( mentiuntur ), that it would trick and astound a kitch-
In the S pel van Sinne of the Goubloeme , the weightiest play contributed
by this Antwerp chamber of rhetoric, the arts are discussed by two char-
acters: ‘Praiseworthy Fame’ and ‘Reason’. The two agree in their high
esteem for painting. There follows the established paragone between
poetry and painting, in which painting suffers no dishonor. Both arts can
move ( beweghen ) men’s emotions and record deeds long past, and thus
painting, if not greater than poetry, is to be extoiled above all crafts.68
The longest part of the dialogue, however, addresses illusionism in
painting. ‘Fame’ and ‘Reason’ praise this pictorial quality by relating the
famous rivalry between the Greek artists Zeuxis and Parrhasius recorded
by Pliny:
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Aertserìs Meat Stall
For Zeuxis was therefore not disheartened
To show in this connection an artful manner.
He, in competition with Parrhasius (also quite famous)
For the highest praise, once artfully crafted
And produced a painted bunch of grapes
So natural, that with it he deceived
The birds who came to it in flight
Thus would he be a skillful artist.
But Parrhasius showed him a linen cloth
Which was so perfectly painted
That Zeuxis thought that it covered
The art, which [Parrhasius] would display
But when Zeuxis wanted to pull away the cloth,
He found himself deceived and defeated
Because, although he had deceived
The birds through such a subtle art,
Parrhasius had shown a more laudable deed,
[Parrhasius,] who remarkably deceived through his own art
An artist himself.
Always and forever after, therefore,
One should hold such artful painters
To be praiseworthy and deserving of favor,
Worthily recorded in all chronicles.69
It is clear that illusionism in painting was a talent generally appreciated in
the Netherlands. Aertsen’s still lifes did not owe their success to a change
in aesthetic taste but rather to existing values and expectations.
Sixteenth-century praise for the Ghent Altarpiece often stresses simi-
lar concerns. The Ghent nobleman Marcus van Vaernewijck selected the
figures of Adam and Eve for special appreciation: ‘But concerning Adam
and Eve, it is a wonder that nobody would be able to judge on sight
whether one of Adam’s feet protruded from the panel or not. And his
right arm and hand that rest on his chest appear to be reflected by his
body. The body is also so fleshy that it seems to be actual flesh. Not only
are the veins within imitated in a lifelike manner, but also the small hairs
that grow on a person’.70
Although Vaernewijck discusses other aspects of the polyptych, he
praises especially the realistic detail and lighting effects. Lucas d’Heere, an
acquaintance of Varnewijck’s who had studied in Antwerp, discusses the
panels of Adam and Eve in similar terms in his Hof en Boomgaerd der
Poesien.71 Both Guicciardini and Van Mander in turn base their discus-
sions on d’Heere’s ode.72
Although this praise of artists conforms largely to classical literary
models, it nonetheless suggests genuine appreciation for the ability to
suggest the tactile qualities of different materials and the illusion of gras-
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pable three-dimensional form. We can therefore understand that Aert-
sen’s skillful representations of still life objects struck a responsive chord
in viewers such as Van Mander. Only a great artist could evoke the sense
of tactile response through the eyes of the observer, who was concurrent-
ly aware of the surface of the picture plane. This controlled deception of
the eye through art, this trompe l’oeil , was indeed admirable duplicity.73
During the middle of the sixteenth century Antwerp was one of
Europe’s artistic capitals, and its inhabitants were conscious of their sta-
tus. After 1540, painters took over the second floor of the Stock Ex-
change, where they exhibited their works for sale.74 In no other city was
there a permanent facility on this scale for the display of paintings. A
large group of sophisticated patrons and a critical mass of painters helped
account for numerous artistic innovations in Antwerp. There was also
unusual tolerance of novelty among Netherlandish intellectuals and con-
noisseurs. Lucas d’Heere, who trained in that city, praised Van Eyck for
having gW experimenteert and invented oil painting, according to the tradi-
tion.75 Erasmus also praised novelty in verbal expression, particularly in
the forming of proverbs.76 In Antwerp Pieter Aertsen was probably freer
to deviate from tradition than in other Northern cities. His imaginative
still lifes and peasant paintings testify to this unusual liberty.
Among the factors that contributed to the genesis of Aertsen’s Meat
Stall was the inverted composition’ established by Lucas van Leyden and
others, an interest in popular customs and festive imagery, the presence
of sophisticated and tolerant patrons, and the development of certain
technical skills. There were several avenues of access to these pictures,
and their variety allows us relate to them to broader cultural, economic,
and aesthetic structures that helped determine their appearance and recep-

1 Sievers 1908, 43-48; A. Hahr, Uppsala Universitets porträtt- och tavelsamling, 1934, 20;
Friedländer 1975, nr. 339; Hoogewerff, vol. IV, 510-512; Bergström 1956, 18-19;
Kreidl 1972, 80; Craig 1982, 1-15; Buchan 1975, 81-95; Moxey 1976B, 143-146; Paul
Verbraeken, ‘Joachim Beuckelaer, Het markt- en keukenstuk in de Nederlanden 1550-
1650′, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87, 114-115; J. C. H. Buijs, in Cat. tent. Amsterdam
1986, 343-344. For the arguments on behalf of the primacy of Aertsen’s painting, see
Craig 1982, 1-2; Verbraeken, 114-115; and, somewhat more circumspect, Buijs, 343.
‘Market piece’ and ‘market painting’ are reductive but convenient terms. Paintings of
urban markets differ from displays of goods in rural settings. There is also a difference
between peasants from the countryside who handle produce and the members of the
urban gardeners’ guild ( hoveniers ambacht). These distinctions, however, are not essen-
tial to the questions that I raise in this essay. The hoveniers , like the butchers and fish
sellers, belonged to the twenty-six privileged guilds of Antwerp. Ordinances regu-
lated the buying and selling of produce within the city and its immediate surround-
ings. P. Génard, ‘Aantekening over de Antwerpsche gilden en ambachten’, Verslagen
en mededelingen der Koninklijke Vlaamsche Academie voor Taal- en Letterkunde 1895, 266-
275; F. Prims, ‘Het Antwerpsch Hoveniersambacht,’ Antwerpiensia 5 (1931), 343-351.
For a discussion of the history of the genre after Aertsen, see C. Grimm, ‘Küchen-
stücke – Marktbilder – Fischstilleben’, in Cat. tent. Münster/Baden-Baden 1979-80,
3 5 2-374.
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2 Buchán 1975, 94 ff; Verbraeken, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87, 124. Craig 1982, 4-7,
suspects that this scene of charity related to an Antwerp legend. He identifies the
depiction of the Virgin giving bread in two paintings executed by other artists from
this city and reasonably suggests that the church in the distance is the Cathedral of
3 Craig 1982, 8; L. Voet, Antwerp. The Golden Age, Antwerp 1973, 119; Guicciardini,
Beschryvinghe van alle de Neder-Landen; anderssins ghenoemt Neder- Duystlandt, trans. C.
Kilian, Amsterdam 1612, 58. For a discussion of formally related scenes of loose living
see Craig 1982, 9-10; Renger 1970, 16.
4 Isolated earlier engravings and woodcuts convey in nuce aspects of the compositions of
later market paintings and kitchen pieces. E. Mummenhoff, Der Handwerker in der
deutschen Vergangenheit, Cologne 1924, rpt. n.d., fig. 25. An anonymous Netherlandish
Still Life, showing shelves with glassware, containers, books, a candle, and a mouse
eating a piece of old cheese, is dated 1538 and belongs to the Rijksmuseum Kröller-
Müller in Otterlo. Catalogus van schilderijen uit de XV e tot en met de XVIIIe eeuw. Benevens
een keu^e uit de tekeningen van die periode, Otterlo 19623, cat. 27. The date ‘1543’ on
Aertsen’s Market Woman in Lille is no longer readable, and the style suggests a work
by Aertsen or his shop from the late 1550s or 1560s. Buchan 1975, 53-57.
5 Freedberg 1982, 133-153. Freedberg discusses the problematic distinction between the
sacred and profane realms of inverted compositions and the potential confusion be-
tween the two.
6 Moxey 1976B, 146-148; E. S. Jacobowitz and S. L. Stepanek, The Prints of Lucas van
Leyden& His Contemporaries, exhibition catalogue Washington 1983, especially cat. 30;
H. G. Franz, Niederländische Landschaftsmalerei im Zeitalter des Manierismus, 2 vols.,
Graz 1969.
7 Genaille 1974-1980, 65-96, fig. 71; Buchan 1975, 57-59, dates Aertsen’s earlier version
(Smidt-van Gelder Museum, Antwerp) to the 1540s. The later version (Rijksmuseum
Het Catharijneconvent, Utrecht) is perhaps from the 1550s.
8 J. Held, Review of Friedländer’s Early Netherlandish Tainting in Art in America 27
(1939), 82; Marlier 1941, 94; Craig 1982, 11.
9 Irmscher 1986, 219-232. The relevance of De Officiis to the art of the sixteenth century,
however, is doubtful. As Irmscher concedes, Cicero does not mention vegetable sell-
ers, the most frequent vendors in market paintings. Further, Cicero does not imply
that practicing a craft or selling meat are evil, only that such work is unfit for the
educated gentleman. None of Cicero’s admonitions apply to laborers who market
their goods in the paintings of Aertsen, Beuckelaer and their followers.
10 Falkenburg 1988, 114-126; Emmens 1973, 99.
11 J. van Ruusbroec, S pieghe l der ewigher salicheit, in Werken van Jan van Kuusbroec, ed. J.
David, 6 vols., Ghent 1858-1868, vol. Ill, 163.
12 Ruusbroec, Werken, vol. IV, 116, 283, 288; vol. V, 19; A. Bijns, Kefereynen, ed. W. L.
van Helten, Rotterdam 1875, 424; S pelen van Sinnen, binnen der stede van Ghendt verthoont
xij Junij i j 39, 2nd ed., Antwerp 1539, 84; Ph. Blommaert, ed., Oud Vlaemsche Gedichten,
3 vols., 1838, vol. Ill, 136, 448; K. van Mander, Olijf-Bergh ofte Poēma van den laetsten
Dagh, Haarlem 1609, 40; D. Sprankhuisen, Van Blyschap, 9, in Alle de Stichtelijke
werken, Franeker 1657; Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, vol. 3a, cols. 4164, 4218;
Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, vol. 2, cols. 725, 728.
13 Hendrik Jansz Barrefelt (‘Hiël’), Het Boeck Der Ghetuygenissen vanden verborghen Acker-
schat…, n.p. n.d., 139-140: Daerom laet ons deur den dienst Pauli (het gheluydt in
onse herten) den tijdt der onwetenheydt, tot boete en(de) beteringhe van onsen doodt-
licken leuen, leere(n) kennen/ en(de) betrachten: en(de) dan, in den lesten deel des
tijdts, den acker koopen, daer den verborghen schat (het leven Christi/daer wij den
doodt int vleesch veur gheven moeten) in begraven(n) ligt;. . . ‘
The phrase erve te coope(n) (‘land’ or ‘heaven for sale’) may also refer satirically to
the Catholic belief in the efficacy of charity and good works. By 1550 persecution of
Protestants was common in Antwerp. We may wonder whether coope(n) was under-
stood by some as criticism of Catholic attitudes toward charity and indulgences. G.
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Parker, The Dutch Revolt , Harmondsworth 1977, rpt. 1981, 57-64; A. Bousse, ‘De
historische gebeurtenissen’, Antwerpen in de ņestiende eeuw, Antwerp 1975, 26. I would
like to thank Alison Kettering for suggesting the relevance of Protestant criticism.
There are objections to Lenten fasting in a Protestant rederijker play of the sixteenth
century. I thank Robert Baldwin for calling my attention to this source. See Een schoon
Tafelspel van drie Personagien, een Prochiaen, een Coster en een Wever, in L. M. van Dis,
Reformatorische Rederijkersspelen uit de eerste helft van de ^estiende eeuw , Haarlem 1937,
185-186. The weaver complains:
Sulcx en straffe ick niet, maer prijset loffelijck,
Die in sulcke meynighe vasten onbelast,
Ghelijck de vrome ouderen hebben gevast,
Want sy en hebben niet ghevast om Verdienste noch om loon,
Noch wt bedwanck noch vreesen van eenich persoon,
Noch wt hypocrisie, als nu is de wijse,
Sy en vasten 00c niet van eenige wtgenomen spijse,
Ais vlees, eyeren, boter oft kaes, groot noch cleyn,
Want den reynen (seyt paulus) is alle dine reyn.
Ooc heeft hyse voor leere der duyvelen beseeft,
Die de spijse verbieden die Godt gheheylicht heeft,
Niet aensiende tijt, stondt noch eenigen dach,
Want al wat op de merct veyl coemt, muecht ghy eten present,
So verre als ghy de conciencie niet en scheynt,
Noch u even broeders daerin niet geergert en zijn
Anders en proefde ick liever geen vlees noch gesuyckerden wijn,
Dan ick den crancken soude schandaliseren.
14 H. Soly, Urbanisme en kapitalisme te Antwerpen in de i6de eeuw, Antwerp 1975, 109-1 30,
137-194, 301-302; E. Scholliers, ‘De Lagere klassen’, Antwerpen in de ņestiende eeuw,
Antwerp 1975, 170-174. Between 1542 and 1550 Antwerp rents rose 63%, compared
to 1 5 % in Brussels, 9% in Ghent, and 23% in Bruges. Guicciardini wrote in 1 567 that
housing in Antwerp was more expensive than in any other city he knew.
15 Plays on this double meaning were common enough in sixteenth-century parlance and
are found in Scripture. Der gheheelen By bel/ Jnhoudende het oude ende nieuwe Testament,
Louvain 1548, Romans viii: 3-6
Want dat der wet onmoghelijck was/ midts dat sij cranck was doer tvleesch/ dat heeft
God ghedae(n)/ sende(n)de sijne(n) sone in die ghelijkenisse des sondischs vleeschs/
en(de) heeft die sonde int vleesch verdoemt doer die sonde/ om dat die recht veerdich-
makinghe der wet soude vervult worden in ons/ die nae de(n) vleesch niet en wande-
ren/ maer nae den gheest. Want die nae den vleesch zijn / die hebben smaek int tghene
datten vleesch aen gaet/ maer die nae den gheest sijn / hebben ghevuelen van tghene
dat den gheest aengaet. Want de wijsheit des vleeschs is die doot/ maer die wijsheyt
des gheests is leven ende vřede.’
16 Craig 1982, 10-12.
17 G. Cavalli-Björkman, Bruegels Tid. Nederländsk konst ij 40-1620, exhibition catalogue
Stockholm National Museum 1984, 56-57 (‘Kanske var mâlningen avsedd att hänga i
en möteslokar); J. Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art ißjo-ijyj, New York 1985, 445.
18 E. I. Strubbe and L. Voet, De Chronologie van de middeleeuwen en de moderne tijden in de
Nederlanden, Antwerp/ Amsterdam i960, 129.
19 Prims (345-346) discusses the altarpieces for the hoveniers guild. Buijs, in Cat. tent.
Amsterdam 1986, 408-410, comments on the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace by Pieter
Pietersz, painted for the Haarlem bakers’ guild.
20 P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, New York 1978, 178-185. In the
prologue Burke defines ‘popular culture’ as ‘unofficial culture, the culture of the
non-elite, the “subordinate classes” ‘. Klaus Demus, Katalog der Gemäldegalerie.
Holländische Meister des ij., 16. und ij. Jahrhunderts, Vienna 1972, 1; Raupp 1986, 195-
223, 265-270; P. Vandenbroeck, ‘Het schildergeslacht Verbeeck. Voorlopige werk-
kataloog’, Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Künsten Antwerpen 198 1, 3 1-60.
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21 C. Cuttler, Northern Paintingfrom Pucelle to Bruegel, New York 1968, 459; Craig 1982, 4.
Craig and Cuttler both call attention to the crossed fish under the Virgin and Child,
regarding the salver and its contents as a Christological symbol. Smoked herring are
also present in the lower left corner.
22 T. Döring, ‘Jan van Bijlert und die Ikonograpie von Karneval und Fasten’, Holländ-
ische Genremalerei im /7. Jahrhundert , Symposium, Berlin 1984, ed. H. Bock and T. W.
Gaehtgens, Jahrbuch Preussischer Kult urbe sit%, Sonderband 4, Berlin 1987, 61-90. 1 thank
Thomas Döring for comments on the relevance of the pretzels in Aertsen’s Meat Stall ,
not discussed in his article.
23 P. Vandenbroeck, Jheronimus Bosch. Tussen vo Iks leven en stadscultuur , Berchem 1987, 193-
353; J. Steppe, ‘Jheronimus Bosch. Bijdrage tot de historische en de ikonografische
studie van zijn werk’, Jheronimus Bosch. Bij dr agen bij ge legenheid van de herdenkingstentoon-
stelling te ‘s-Hertogenbosch 1967, ‘s-Hertogenbosch 1967, 5-41.
24 Carnival Fools’ Tract, The Hague, Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, MS C
10 26, foi. iov-iir. H. Pleij, He t gilde van de Blauwe Schuit. Literatuur, volksfeest en
burgermoraal in de late middeleeuwen, 1979, rev. ed. Amsterdam 1983, 249, 253-254.
25 C. Gaignebet, ‘Le Combat de Carnaval et de Carême de P. Bruegel (1559)’, Annales:
Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations 27 (1972), Part 2, 313-345; Arthur Haberlandt, ‘Das
Faschingsbild des Peter Bruegel d. Ä’, Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 43 (1933), 237-249; C.
G. Stridbeck, ‘ “Combat between Carnival and Lent” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. An
Allegorical Picture of the Sixteenth Century’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes 19 (1956), 96-109; Hanns Swarzenski, ‘The Battle Between Carnival and
Lent’, Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 49 (195 1), 2-1 1.
26 W. Nijhoff, ‘Een oude nederlandsche houtsnede van den strijd tusschen vleesch en
visch’, Het Boek 21 (1933), 333-336.
27 Luigi Manzoni, ed., Libro di Carnevale dei secoli XV et XVI, Bologna 1881, with
reproductions of the woodcuts; P. Kristeller, ‘Florentine Book-Illustrations. Part II’,
Bibliographica II (1896), 227-256. Italian prints of the triumph of Carnival from the
mid-sixteenth century are discussed by M. A. Katritzky, ‘Italian Comedians in Renais-
sance Prints’, Print Quarterly 4 (1987), 236-254.
28 Pantagruel, Book IV, chapters 35-41. See The Histories of Garguantua and Pantagruel,
trans. J. M. Cohen, Harmondsworth 1955, rpt. 1982, 524-538.
29 Grégoire Lozinski, De Caresme et de Charnage, Paris 1933; Barbara C. Bowen, ‘Lenten
Eels and Carnival Sausages’, L’Esprit Créateur 21 (1981), 13-18.
30 M. Criado de Val and E. W. Naylor, Arcipreste de Hita, Libro de Buen Amor: Edición
Crítica, Madrid 1965; The Book of Good Love by Juan Rui%, trans. E. K. Kane, in-
troduction by J. E. Keller, Chapel Hill 1968, v. 1082, 1985; K. M. Laurence, ‘The
Battle between Don Carnal and Doña Quaresma in the light of medieval tradition’, in
Libro de Buen Amor Studies, ed. G. B. Gybbon-Moneypenny, London i960, 159-176;
Bowen (see note 29), 14.
31 The Book of Good Love, v. 1099-1127.
32 J.-C. Aubailly, ed., Deux jeux de carnaval de la fin du moyen âge, Geneva 1977, 1-70.
33 Aubailly, 11-17, 22-34; Bowen (see note 29), 15-18.
34 Aubailly, 71-87; Bowen (see note 29), 16-17. Another French example is the sixteenth-
century poem La description du merveillieux conflict et très cruelle bataille faide entre les deux
plus grands Princes de la Région Bufatique, appelle ^ Caresme et Charnaïge. The theme was
also well-known in Italy. G. Amalfi, ed., El contrasto de Carnasciale et de Quaresema,
Naples 1890; Manzoni (see note 27; including a selection of related French and Span-
ish writings and a bibliography). The great popularity of literature on this theme
induced a publisher in Lyon to offer a French translation of an Italian contrasto during
the first decade of the seventeenth century: Proce% et amples examinations sur la vie de
Caresme Prenant… ‘Traduict d’Italien en François’, n.p. 1609.
35 Carnival Fools’ Tract, The Hague, Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, MS 10
C 26, fol. i ir; Pleij (See note 24), 254. I would like to thank E. Haverkamp Begemann
and J. W. Smit for their help with the translation.
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Cuvels Cuvels laet gecken voe[de]n
Hammen en[de] schoeren en een capoen
Die ton is leck
Kannen en potten zijn ons gebreck
Glasen en schalen is ons van doen
Coppen en pinten van alderley faetsoen
Lanct ons die hens
Hier is noch een vette gens
Eyer ende pan
Daer en co[m]men geen kuyckens, kuyckens
Daer en co[m]men geen kuyckens van.
Die Vasten
Heyrinck en bocking moeten wy eten
Hammen en schoeren moeten wy vergeten
Cabbeliau en stockvis scelvis moeten aen
Mosselkens pladyskens en eyercoeckens mede
Kannen en potten wy zijn vra(c ?)
Olycoecken pannevis vyghen zijn soet
Rasynen en nueten craeckelinghen is goet
Erritten en bry al op dit pas,
Knollen en uien wy vysten vlas
Palinck en roch compt ons aen boort
Hier mee soe gaet die vasten, die vasten,
Hier mee gaet die vasten voert.
There are similarities to the Pronstelcatie van den jare ons Heeren [ i j6i ] . . .van meester
Malfus Knollebol, Antwerp, Widow of Jacob van Liesveldt; rpt. H. van Kampen et al.,
ed., Het ^al koud %ijn in ’t water als ’t vriest. Zestiende-eeuwse parodieën op gedrukte jaarvoor-
spellingen, The Hague 1980, 95, lines 229-234:
Van die lenten. . .
En dan coemt ons die Vasten oock aen boort
En dan siet men aen alle canten voort
Met vijghen, rosijnen en leckeren compost,
Stockvisch, pekelharinckis dan oock goeden cost
Nootkens, amandelen en crakelinghen mede
Brenght die Grave van Halfvasten nae d’oude sede.
36 Noël Dupire, ed., Les Faict^ et Dict^ de Jean Molinet, Paris 1937, vol. II, 636-648.
La Chair
Dieu paira tout au jour du jugement,
Bons et mauvais selonc leurs fourfaictures:
Nous disputons pour sçavoir clerement
Qui de nous deux a plus d’avancement
D’estre honoré entre les creatures;
Vous qui sçavés les loix et les droictures,
Donnés arrest, jugés selon raison
Lequel vault mieux, la chair ou le poisson.
37 Brussels, Koninklijk Bibliotheek, MS no. 15663, fol. 147V-1 5 ir; W. M. H. Hummelen,
Kepertorium van het rederijkersdrama ijoo-ca. 1620, Assen 1968, 350; There is a second
play on this theme by Wouter Verhee. See J. van Vloten, Het Nederlandsche kluchtspel
van de 14e tot de iSe eeuw, 2nd ed., Haarlem 1877, 206 ff. For the author Verhee see
‘Wouter Verhee’, Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsche Taal- en Letterkunde 5 (1885), 137 ff.
38 For Bosch’s painting of Carnival and Lent see Gustav Glück, ‘Die Darstellungen des
Karnevals und der Fasten von Bosch und Bruegel’, Gedenkboek A. i/ermeylen, The
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Aer t seri s Meat Stall
Hague 1932, 263-68; Vandenbroeck (see note 23), 305-310; ” Jheronimus Bosch” , exhibi-
tion catalogue ‘s-Hertogenbosch Noordbrabants Museum 1967, 139, no. 39; K.
Arndt, ‘Zur Ausstellung Jheronimus Bosch, ‘s-Hertogenbosch 1967′, Kuňstchronik 21
(1968), 6-7.
39 March 10, 1552 fell on the eighth day of Lent, a Thursday. In other cases, the dates on
Aertsen’s paintings seem significant. See Craig 1983, 25.
40 Der fielen troost, Leiden, Jan Seversz., 15 15, fol. 25r-25v: ‘Van ghesellen die inder
asscen sticten. Des sondaechs inden vasten avont säten gesellen ende droncken ende
waren blijde ende des manendaechs ende des dinxdaechs daer toe ende inden asscele
woensdach ende lieten si niet af. Doemen dye misse singen soude sprack die een totten
anderen Ga wij ter kercken ende nemen asschen opt hooft. Doe begonde die ander te
scempen ende sprack. Siet hier neder ick will die assche genoech geven ende nam
assche ende werp hem daer mede. Siet daer quam een ende werper met assche also
lange dat haer der geen mont noch ogen op en mochten doen vander asscen want
sticten allegader’.
J. Andriessen, ‘Het Geestelijke en godsdienstige klimaať, Antwerpen in de XVIe eeuiv,
Antwerp 1975, 205. Der Sielen Troost , an adaptation of a fourteenth-century Low
German text, was published nine times at Antwerp between 1502 and 1587. The
hardships of Lenten asceticism are expressed in an Antwerp play of the mid-sixteenth
century. C. G. N. de Vooys, ed., ‘Een verloren vastenspel van sinnen uit de XVIde
eeuw’, Ver s lagen en mededelingen Koninkhjke Vlaamse Academie voor Taal- en Wetterkunde
195 3, 622.
41 Der fielen troost, fol. 25 V: ‘Van een vette henne diemen wt van een vreeslike grote
worm Het saten ghesellen ende aten opten vasten avont totter midder weken toe totter
midder nacht ende hadden gegeten menigerley spijsen. Doe die haen craeyde. doe
sprack die weert vanden huse Gesellen wi moeten noch eten van eender vetter henne
ende sprack. staet op ende haelt ons een vette henne die den haen alder naest sittet dat
is dye vetste henne hi haeldese hem si wert ghedoot doemen dat ingewant wt doen
soude doen toech. men daer wt enen groten vervaerlijcken worm die was so vreesliken
dat hem gruwelede alle dye daer waren soe bleef dat eten onder weghen Lieve kint
Eert dien heylighen tijť.
42 Antwerpsch Archievenblad, ‘Stadsordonnantiën’, ed. P. Génard, vol. I, Antwerp 1864,
225, 268, 283.
43 G. Gnapheus, Acolastus, ed. P. Minderaa, Zwolle 1956, 16-17: ‘Dese sake is bi den
heeren stadhouders ende den gantschen raet so hoogh geweghen, dat men twee dagen
lanck de gemeynde saken des gantschen lants liet aanstaen, om alien consultatie over
die worst te houden. Daer werden de doctoren der medicijnen verhoort ende afge-
vracht of het 00c natuerlijc waer, dat de zwangere vrouwen lust souden mögen heb-
ben, om vleesch te eten in den vasten’.
44 And this despite episcopal and papal dispensations on account of Erasmus’s infirmity.
See ‘A Fish Diet’ in C. R. Thompson, ed. and trans., The Colloquies of Erasmus, Chica-
go/London 1965, 313, 349-350.
45 Stockholm, National Museum, cat. N. M. 2106; Grosjean 1974, 1 30-1 31; Bruegels tid,
(see note 17), 58; Kavaler, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87, 25, note 18. The gestures of the
foreground figures alert the viewer to the potential sexual associations of the objects
they touch.
46 E. de Jongh, ‘Erotica in Vogelperspektief, de dubbelzinnigheid van een reeks i7de-
eeuwse genrevoorstellingen’, Simiolus 3 (1968-69), 22-74.
47 Emmens 1973, 93-101; Grosjean 1974, 1 21-143; Kavaler, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87,
18-26; L. Wuyts, ‘Joachim Beuckelaers Groentemarkt van 1567. Een iconologische
bijdrage’, ibidem, 27-38; L. Wuyts, ‘Lucas van Leydens “Melkrrieid”. Een proeve tot
ikonologische interpretatie’, De Gulden Passer 53 (1975), 441-453; L. Maeterlinck, Le
genre satirique , fantastique et licencieux dans la sculpture flamande et wallone, Paris 19 10, 177;
Grosjean 1974, 128.
48 Kavaler, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87, 20-21; Dürer’s Bathhouse is illustrated in W.
Strauss, ed., The Illustrated Bartsch 10, Sixteenth-Century German Artists, New York
1980, nr. 128.
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49 Grosjean 1974, 128; Maeterlinck (see note 47), 177.
50 Wuyts, ‘Lucas van Leydens “Melkmeid”. . . ‘ (see note 47); L. Vergara, Kubens and the
poetics of landscape, New Haven/London 1982, 170; Kavaler, in Cat. tent. Gent 1986-87,
21; Raupp 1986, 222.
51 Van Kampen (see note 35), 113: “t Sal in den meye conjunctie sijn met veel personen.
Dan sullen die scutters tot veel plecken geneicht sijn opwaerts na den papegay te
Schieten. Venus-kinderen sullen liefst Schieten tusschen twee staken, also lange als si
pilen hebben in harén coker’.
52 Van Kampen (see note 35), 91, lines 139-143.
En tusschen twee amoreuskens, verstaet die cluchten,
En sal gheenen twist wesen, het come hoe ’t wilt,
Heeft d’een de Speere, d’ander heeft den schilt,
En wat si bedrijven, ’t sal sijn uut ghenuechten reyn.
Dus zal ’t al peys sijn, ick see ’t certeyn.
53 D. Coigneau, Kef reinen in ‘trotte bij de rederijkers, Ghent 1982, vol. I, 14-1 5; J. Suchom-
ski, ‘Delecta tio’ und ‘ Utilit as. ‘ Ein Beitrag f(um Verständnis mittelalterlicher komischer Liter-
atur, Bonn/Munich 1975; H. Pleij et al., Een nyeuwe clucht boeck, Muiderberg 1983,
34-47; J. B. Drewes, ‘De Blauwe Schuiť [Review of Herman Pleij], De nieuwe taalgids
74 (1981), 420-432; P. Bange, ‘Voorstellingen over seksualiteit in de late middeleeu-
wen’, Soe te m inné en heische boosheit. Seksuele voorstellingen in Neder land 1300-18 jo, ed. G.
Hekma and H. Roodenburg, Nijmegen 1988, 58-60; C. Kruyskamp, ed., De Ke-
freinenbundel van Jan van Doesborch, vol. II, Leiden 1940, 150: ‘REFREYNEN Ende
Balladen int wijs. ende van sinnen, met veel schoone onderwisingen ende leeringen’;
228: ‘REFREYNEN Int sot / om ghenuecht te verwecken/ ende swaricheyt en mélan-
colie te verdriven.’ Die catalogen oft inventarissen vanden quaden verboden bouc ken, Louvain
1550, cii: ‘Refereynen in sot/ amoreus/ wijs’. Van Doesborch’s book of ballades in-
cludes woodcuts showing men and women together in bed. Although the book was
later placed on the Index Eibrorum prohibitorum , this is as much a measure of apprecia-
tion from one sector of the population as it is disapproval from another.
54 Rosemondt’s book was published at least three times between 15 17 and 1518. Coig-
neau (see note 5 3), 272; G. Brom, Schilderkunst en Eiteratuur in de 16e en ije eeuiv,
Utrecht/Antwerp 1957, 75-92; L. Indestege, ‘Een Leuvense theoloog uit de kring van
Erasmus. Godschalc Rosemondt en zijn Boecxken vander Biechten’, Verslagen en Me-
de de Ungen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Neder landse Taal- en Letter kunde 1973, 25, 28;
G. Kalff, Geschiedenis van Nederlandsche Letter kunde in de i6de Eeuw, Leiden 1889, vol. I,
147. ‘XIIII. Item ic heb naecte mans ende vrouwen ende onbehoorlicke figuren in
mijn huys of glasen laten schilderen ende heb daer ghenuechte ende delectacie in
gehadt ende gaerne aengesien ende mi selven ende ander menschen daer doer tot
sonden verwecť.
55 Willem van Eeghem, ed., Drie schandaleuse speien ( Brussels ijjņ), Antwerpen/Amster-
dam 1937, 81-82.
56 Ibid. 74-75. ‘Gevraeght öfter eenige andere deur tvoirscreven spei gescandalizeert
wordden seeght dat hy daer nyemant en kende ende die by hem stonden die logen
zeere sulcx dat hy deponent nyet meer en dorste seggen’. Freedberg 1982 discusses the
defiance of ecclesiastical interdiction of images and considers the function and recep-
tion of paintings in the context of iconoclasm and the Catholic Reformation.
57 References to censorship of ribald language were not uncommon. In early modern
Europe, urban societies increasingly demanded regulation of bodily impulses. R. Mu-
chembled, Popular Culture and Elite Culture in France, / 400-1/ jo, 1978, trans. L. Coch-
rane, Baton Rouge/London 1985; P. Vandenbroeck, Beeld van den andere. Vertoog over
het ņelf, Antwerp 1987, especially 1-37, 141-153; P. Vandenbroeck, ‘Verbeek’s peasant
weddings: a study of iconography and social function’, Simiolus 4 (1984), 79-124;
Coigneau (see note 53), II, 271-272, n. 61, 275-291; E. van Autenboer, Volksfeesten en
rederijkers te Mechelen ( 1400-1600) , Ghent 1962, 80, note 5. Townspeople condemned
peasants for exhibiting animal passions yet often harbored a longing for more ‘natural
pleasures’. We find an essentially male fantasy of sexual freedom and unchecked force
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Aer t sen’ s Meat Stall
in the more idealized sections of Noël du Fail’s Propos rustiques. Rabelais presents us
with a similar vision of the liberated body, though he also emphasizes the selective
nature of this desire by mocking the male fear of women accorded equal sexual
freedom. G. A. Pérouse, ‘Le dessein des Propos Rustiques’, in Études Sei^ièmistes , Of-
fertes à Monsieur le Professeur V.-L. Saulnier, Geneva 1980, 137-150. I am indebted
to Paul Vandenbroeck for aspects of the anthropological perspective on these phe-
58 C. Scott, ‘Some Approaches to the Study of the Riddle’, Studies in Language, Literature ,
and Culture of the Middle Ages and Later, ed. E. B. Atwood and A. Hill, Austin 1969,
111-127; R. A. Georges and A. Dundes, ‘Toward a Structural Definition of the Rid-
dle’, journal of American Folklore 76 (1963), 1 1 1-1 18; N. F. Barley, ‘Structural Aspects
of the Anglo-Saxon Riddle’, Semiotica 10 (1974), 143-175; R. Caillois, ‘Riddles and
Images’, trans. J. Mehlman, Yale French Studies 41 (1968), 148-58; C. Williamson, A
Feast of Creatures . Anglo-Saxon Kiddle-Songs, Philadelphia 1982, 7-46; Een neder lands
raadselhoek uit de ņestiende eeuw, ed. W. L. Braekman, Brussels 1985; P. J. A. Franssen,
‘Een Nederlands raadselboek uit de zestiende eeuw’ [review of Braekman], Spiegel der
Letteren 28 (1986), 96-99.
59 This visual phenomenon shares aspects of the obscene joke. S. Freud, Jokes and their
relation to the Unconscious, 1905; trans. J. Strachey, Harmondsworth 1976; S. Kreitler, et
al., ‘How to kill jokes cognitively? The meaning structure of jokes’, Semiotica 68
(1988), 297-319. Coigneau (see note 53), 270, 276, draws examples from art as well as
60 Vandenbroeck, Beeld… (see note 57); V. Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors. Sym-
bolic Action in Human Society, Ithaca/London 1974, rpt. 1985, 23-59, 272-299; M. Dou-
glas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, 1966, rpt.
London 1985, 140-158; Williamson (see note 58), 25-46; Coigneau (see note 53); I.
Hammett, ‘Ambiguity, Classification and Change: The Function of Riddles’, Man, n.s.
2 (1967), 387; E. Leach, ‘Anthropological aspects of language: Animal categories and
verbal abuse’, in New Directions in the Study of Language, ed. E. H. Lenneberg, Cam-
bridge, Mass. 1963, 23-63. Closely related is the concept of play: J. Huizinga, Homo
ludens. A study of the play element in culture, 1944, English ed. 1950, rpt. Boston 1955,
1-27, 105-118; R. Caillois, Les jeux et les hommes, Paris 1958; J. Ehrmann, ‘Homo
Ludens revisteď, Yale French Studies 41 (1968), 31-57.
61 Pliny ( Naturalis Historia, XX, 19) cites Diocles and Dionysus in discussing the turnip
as an aphrodisiac. I thank Herman Pleij for this reference. Den Herbarius in Dyetsche,
Antwerp, Willem Vosterman, ca. 1500; rpt. Ghent 1974, fol. cxix: ‘Rapen oft rapa is
heete inden tweede(n) graet en(de) nat. Sy doe(n) voeden meer da(n) ander cruide(n)
maer sy zij(n) swaer te verterene make(n)de morwe En(de) opgheblasen vleesche om
haer winden ende op blazi(n)ghe. daer om vermeerdere(n) si sperma ende beroeren
oncuischeyt hoe sij langher sien hoe si vat voeden ende min letsels hebben
blasen oppe en(de) maken vochigheyt oft sperma inden mensche’.
William Turner, the sixteenth-century English herbalist, cites Averroes and Dioscó-
rides as his authorities. W. Turner, The first and seconde partes of William Turner Doctor in
Phisick. . . , Cologne 1568, vol. II, 80 ff. and 115; Grosjean 1974, 129. Jacob Jordaens
exploits the sexual associations of turnip and cabbage in a painting now in Kassel. The
large canvas shows peasants of all ages seated around a table (a cycle of life?). The
mother points to a prominent still-life detail in the foreground: an orderly group of
four turnips, arranged symmetrically around a cabbage. (A couple of small squash (?)
are also present, and a child urinates in the lower right corner.) B. Schnackenburg,
Flämische Meister in der Kassler Gemäldegalerie, Kassel 1985, 40, pl. 27.
62 I. Burghoorn, Klucht-hoofdige Snorre-Pypen, Quacken, en Quine k-slagen, Springende van den
Os op den Esel, vol. I, s.p. 1644, p. 28: ‘Ik heb daer een kint helpen halen uytte kool,
hier tot onse An’; Den eerelycken Pluck-vogel, ghepluckt in diversche Pluymkens van Minne-
Liedekens, ende andere Vrolyckheden Uytgebroeyt door Jonc ker Livinius van den Minnen, Ant-
werpen 1669, 232; ‘Ick wil spraek hy tot sijn Joole Dat gy brenght een kint aen my ‘t
Sy een knechtjen uyt de koolen oft uyt den Roosmary’; Kavaler (in Cat. -tent. Gent
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1986-87), 22. Similar to Beuckelaer’s painting in Valenciennes is a painting attributed
to Magdalena Pietersz and dated 1583 (location unknown; illustrated in Kavaler, fig.
6). The artist shows a peasant woman seated before an impressive display of produce.
A man standing beside her grasps one of her breasts, while a child suckles freely on the
other. In the background two men stand by a well, while a woman tends a cart and
basket filled with cabbages and turnips. The subject of the painting is sexual, though
not erotic. The attitude displayed toward the peasants is condescending but not con-
63 The print by Pieter van der Borcht, published by Jan Baptist Vrints, is not listed in
Hollstein. The Dutch and French texts are as follows:
De merckten syn seer gherieflyck ende nootlyck voir alle soorten van menschen,
Want soo wel de coopers als de vercoopers hier vinden daer sy naer wenschen.
Les merches sont fort nécessaires aux humains sans contredire,
Car tout le monde ycy trouve ce quii desire.
64 Guicciardini (see note 3), 69: ‘Antwerpen is seer wel versien van lijfneeringhe: want
behalven die de vreemdelingen van alle zyden bybrenghen/ wordt van de besorghers
der gantscher Provincien/ te water ende te lande/ daghelijcx soo veel bygebracht/ dat
hier niet alleenlijck overvloedt van allerley ghewoonlijcke lijfneeringhe/ maer oock
seer groote overvloedt van allerhande onghewoonlijcke ghevonden wordt. ..Aen-
gaende costelijcke eetware/ om te bancketeren/ buyten noodtsaeckelijckheydt/ wort
allerhande lusticheyt ende leckerny e/ die men mocht wenschen oft begheeren / uyt alle
landen / hier ghevonden’.
65 Van Mander 1604, chap. VII, 53-55. See H. Miedema’s edition of Van Mander’s
Grondi , vol. 2, Utrecht 1973, 531-532; Moxey 1976B, 145-146, 183; J. Muylle, ‘Pieter
Aertsen en Joachim Beuckelaer in de kunstliteratuur (ca. 1560-1610)’, in Cat. tent.
Gent 1986-87, 1 5 .
Het scheen al te leven, ťgroen met den rijpen,
Men soude schier meenen met handen grijpen
Eenighe tailliooren in ’t doncker staende,
Daer soo enen teghen-glans in is slaende,
Ghelijck men mach sien met jongstigher vlamme
Bij eenen Const-lievenden t’Amsterdamme.
Summe, in Const was hy een overvliegher,
Om de Reflexy aerdich by te bringhen,
Jae een groot behendich listich bedriegher
Van s’Menschen ooghen, oock een cluchtich liegher:
Want men meent te sien alder haende dinghen,
Doch ist maer verwe, die hy wist te minghen,
Dat t’effen schijnt rondt, en t’platte verheven,
T’stomme te spreken, en t’doode te leven.
66 A. Buchelius, ‘Res Pictoriae.’ Aantekeningen over kunstenaars en kunstwerken voorkomende in
%jjn Diarium, Res Pictoriae, Notae Quotidianae en descriptio Urbis Ultrajectinae, ed. G. J.
Hoogewerff and J. Q. Van Regieren Altena, Quellenstudien zur holländischen Kunst-
geschichte, I, 1928, 76.
67 Muyle (see note 65), 16; C. Scribani, Antverpia, Antwerp 16 10, 37: ‘Varro narrai
cognitu(m) à se Posim nomine, ab eoq(ue); factas Romae vuas & pisces, ita ut no(n)
esset aspectu discernere à veris. Quid disceret si culinam vidisset Ioachimi Buecklaer,
in qua poma & hortorum reliqua; in quâ altilia, carnes, pisces, ita rem mentiuntur, ut
non una(m) fallant ancillam conquarium?’.
68 S pelen van sinne vol scoone moralisacien w tiegging ende bediedenissen op alle loeflijcke consten waer
inne men ciaer lij ck ghelijck in eenen spieghe l’ Figuerlijckļ Poetelijck en (de) Retorijckelijck mach
aenschouwen hoe nootsakelijck ende dienstelijck die selve consten allen menschen %jn. Antwerp,
Willem Silvius, 1562, sig. Q3-V. I would like to thank E. Haverkamp Begemann for
helping me with the translation of this play.
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yìertserìs Meat Stall
Dats pietura / die oyt in menich rijck/
Groot gheacht wert/ en gheestimeert // wordt
Voor een stille Poesis/ en ghelaudeert// wordt/
Want soo Poesis den mensche beweghen // can/
Diesghelijcx Pietura ooek daer teghen // can
Eicken inden gheest verwecken sonder spreken/
En ghelijck een Poeet met gheleerde treken
Feyten / gesten verhaelt van voorleden tijen
Soo oock can een Schilder/ oorloghen en strijen
En al dat oyt ghebeurt is merckelijck tooghen
Ja oft wijt natuerlijck saghen voor ooghen
Weert om verhooghen/ boven alle hantwercken
En dat noch meer is/ men siet in alle percken
Dat een Schilder met sijnen pinceele net
Op een cleyn plaetse int gheheele set
Landen / en Steden / fortressen/ en sloten
69 Ibid., sig. Q}-v – Q4-r.
Ten heeft daerom Zeuxim niet verdroten
Hier in te toonen eenen constighen aert
Die teghen Parrhasium (oock seer vermaert)
Om dloflijckste eens constich ghewracht// heeft
En eenen wijntors gheschildert voort ghebracht// heeft
Soo natuerlijck/ dat hy daer door heeft bedroghen
De voghelen die daer na quamen ghevloghen
Dies hy wel wou sijn een constenaer cloeck
Maer Parrhasius heeft eenen lijnen doeck
Hem ghetoont die gheschildert soo perfect // was
Dat Zeuxis meende dat daer me ghedect // was
De conste/ die hy laten blij ken// souwe
Maer doen Zeuxis dan doeck af strijken// wouwe
Vant hy hem bedroghen/ en verwonnen
Want al hadde hy de voghelen connen
Bedrieghen door sulcke conste delicaet
Parrhasius toonde een loflijeker daet
Die eenen constenaer selve door sijn conste
Merckelijck bedrooch.
Een loffelijeke ionste
Moetmen altoos/ en ten eeuwighen daghen
Hierom sulcke constighe schilders na draghen
Weerdich gheset / in alle Cronijcken
70 M. van Vaernewijck, ]X an die beroerlicke tijden in die Nederlanden en voornamelijk in Ghendt
ij66-ij6S, ed. F. Vanderhaeghen, Ghent 1872-1881, Vol. 1, 143-144: ‘Maer van Adam
ende Eva waer wonder te zegghen, niemant en zoude wel zonder twijffelen connen
jugieren, tzelve anziende, of den eenen voet van Adam uuten platten tafereele steect of
niet, ende zijnen rechter aerme ende handt, die hij up zijn burst lecht, schijnt van
zijnen lijve duerluchtige zijnde. Dlichaem es oock zoo vleesch-achtich dat schijnt
vleesch te wesen. Niet alleene de aderen en zijn daer inne gheconterfeet zeer levende,
maer 00c die cleene aerkins die een meinsche uuten lichame groijen’.
71 Lucas d’Heere, Den Hof en boomgaerd der poësien, Ghent 1565, ed. W. Waterschoot,
Zwolle 1669, 129-132.
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All use subject to
72 W. Waterschoot, ed., Ter liefde der Const. Uit het Schilder-Boeck ( 1604 ) van Karel van
Mander, Leiden 1983, 46-50, 64-67. Vaernewijck also knew d’Heere’s poem. See W.
Waterschoot, ‘Lucas d’Heere en Marcus van Vaernewijck voor het Lam Gods’, Jaar-
boek De Fonteine 1966, 109 ff. Guicciardini (see note 3, p. 80) praises even Frans Floris
for his illusionistic painting of flesh: ‘Laet ons nu spreken vande levende/ ende stellen
ten eersten Frans Floris/ so uytnemende Schilder in zijn eygen conste van vindinghe
ende beworpinghe/ dat herwaerts ‘tgheberghte in soo veel Provincien zijns ghelijck
veel licht niet en is: want hy is een sonderlingh meester / ende daer en boven een
rustich ende beleeft man van natueren: desen wordt de prijs ghegheven dat hy uyt
Italien ghebracht heeft de conste van muysvleesch ende vel des lichaems aerdichlijk
ende wonderbaerlijck te schilderen’.
For a discussion of the increasing priority placed on the visual intuition of form and
space, see W. M. Ivins, On the Nationalisation of Sight, New York 1975, 7-1 3; D. Tomas,
‘Toward an anthropology of sight’, Semiotica 68 (1988), 246-251.
73 Van Mander praises Aertsen as literally a deceiver of men’s eyes (note 65). Among the
recent considerations of illusionism are J. Lacan, The Tour Fundamental concepts of
Psycho- Analysis, 1973, trans. A. Sheridan, New York/London 1981, 67-119, particular-
ly 105-112, and R. Wollheim, Tainting as an Art, Princeton 1987, 43-100. Both posi-
tions, different as they are, recognize simultaneous perception of the painted surface
and the object represented upon it. Wollheim (360-361) cites other modern views. For
an introduction to Renaissance theories of imitation and illusion see D. Summers,
Michelangelo and the Language of Art, Princeton 1981, 193-196, 279-282. Netherlandisch
encomia on art consistently use the term ‘deception’ in a positive sense, although
contemporary opinions on the virtue of mimesis were divided. The well-known pla-
tonic views of Michelangelo, as recorded by Francesco da Hollanda, stand in opposi-
tion. See Summers, 286, 332; R. Klein and H. Zerner, Italian Art ijoo-1600. Sources and
Documents , Englewood Cliffs 1966, 34; L. Mendelsohn, Paragoni. Benedetto Varchi* s ‘Due
Legioni’ and Cinquecento Art Theory , Ann Arbor 1982, 41-43, 113-115, 120-122; E. W.
Tayler, Nature and Art in Renaissance Literature , New York/London 1964, 30-35; O. B.
Hardison, Jr., R. Tuve, FLliņabeth and Metaphysical Imagery ,1947; Chicago 1963, 50-57,
74 Zirka Z. Filipczak, Picturing Art in Antwerp ijjo-iyoo, Princeton 1987, 21, 41; Jean C.
Wilson, ‘The Participation of painters in the Bruges “Pandt” Market, 1512-1550’,
Burlington Magazine 125 (1983), 476-479; Lome Campbell, ‘The Art Market in the
Southern Netherlands in the Fifteenth Century’, Burlington Magazine 118 (1976), 188-
198; Hans Floerke, Studien %ur niederländischen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte. Die Formen des
Kunsthandels, das Atelier und die Sammler in den Niederlanden vom ij.-iS. Jahrhundert,
Munich/Leipzig 1905, 38-39, 62; G. F. Koch, Die Kunstausstellung. Ihre Geschichte von den
Anfängen bis vyim Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 1967, 63; Moxey, 1976B, 181- 186.
The degree of artistic self-consciousness in Antwerp is suggested by the artist who had
the heads of Van Eyck and Dürer carved on the facade of his house. The sculptures,
which have survived, are displayed in the Antwerp Vleeshuis, now a museum. See
Filipczak, 14; J. Duverger and M.J. Onghena, ‘Beeldhouwer Willem van den Broecke
alias Gulielmus Paludanus’, Gentse Bijdragen 5 (1938), 91-95.
75 The artistic innovation of Antwerp artists contrasts, for example, with those of
Bruges. D’Heere (see note 71), 31:
Van desen moetme(n) hem te meer lofs gheve(n) waerlic
Om dat hi in zulcke tiden alsoo heeft ghefloreert,
Doen hi zulck’ excellente waercken eenpaerlic,
Als hi selve dede en had’ gh’experimenteert.
Een Schilder uut Italien selfs confesseert,
Dat Heycus daer d’Olverwe broght en heeft vonden:
En van dry sine waercken hi mentioneert
Die te Napels, Florencen, en Turbino stonden.
76 Erasmus, Adages Hi to Ivioo, Collected Works of Erasmus, trans. M. M. Phillips, ed. R.
A. B. Mynors, Toronto 1982, 6-7.
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