Artibus et Historiae no. 25 (XIII)

1992, ISSN 0391-9064

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LINDA STONE-FERRIER - Gabriel Metsu's Vegetable Market at Amsterdam and Its Relationship to a Bredero Farce

Gabriel Metsu's Vegetable Market at Amsterdam distinguishes itself from similar seventeenth-century Dutch paintings most notably through the rich and complex relationship betwe many of its elements and a detailed description of the markets of Amsterdam in the popular theatrical farce Moortje by Gerbrand Bredero. Metsu probably chose to focus on the vegetable market because he lived nearby.

The painting may have been commissioned by one of the regents of the city's theater, the Schouwburg, who would have appreciated the allusions to the Bredero play. Alternatively, the patron might have been a regent of the orphanage or the people's home, which shared between them the profits from Schouwburg performances. There is a previously unrecognized precedent for Metsu's receiving a commission from a regent of a charitable institution: the patron for his Justice Protecting Widows and Orphans was a regent of the huiszittenhuis Leiden which provided assistance to widows and orphans.

Or possibly the patron was a rich vegetable grower or seller or simply someone who loved Amsterdam and its colorful markets.

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