Market Scene

Market Scene
Oil on oak, 127 x 85 cm
Wallraf-Richartz Museum, CologneThis Market Scene - a painting in vertical  - shows a column of
sea food on the left, building up and culminating in a ray and -
directly opposite, on the right - a large number of fruits of the
field and the garden. Wedged between this enormous abundance of
produce, the farmer and his wife appear to be mere appendages whose
job is only that of proudly pointing with silent gestures to the
victuals that are on offer.The ostentatious wealth of fruit and vegetables in the market scenes
of Aertsen and Beuckelaer may lead to the false conclusion that the
population had plenty to eat. But although more was being offered on
the markets, this did not meet the demands of the urban population,
who had to pay exorbitant prices for agricultural produce in
comparison to what they actually earned. And so, the horn-of-plenty
motif of these market pictures reflects far more the perception of
those who benefited, that is, the newly-rich farmers. In this way the
artist emphasized the commercial aesthetics of agricultural products
from the farmers' fields and gardens, products that were meant to
arouse in the viewer the desire to buy, though not in the sense of
present-day advertising.However, this does not exclude the possibility of ambivalent reasoning
behind such paintings. While stimulating people's cravings and
appealing to their needs, they often contained a subtle element of
criticism, particularly in Aertsen's biblically motivated
pictures. This criticism concerned the contradiction between people's
consumer habits and the demand of temperance ("fasting"). While this
critical element was still obvious in Aertsen's paintings, it seems to
have disappeared almost completely in Beuckelaer's.This painting has a multiple theme. The abundance of the market could
be at the same time a representation of the Four Elements and an
allegory of the Five Senses. Also the market woman is being pestered
by a bird-catcher, who is gripping a duck round the neck with obvious
erotic overtones - as well as a realistic representation. The painting
is also a moral lesson, extolling moderation and restraint in contrast
to the physical and sensual pleasured offered, for instance, in the
plumpness of the fruit. In other paintings Aertsen introduced a
religious scene in the background by way of admonition.

Market Scene Oil on oak, 127 x 85 cm Wallraf-Richartz Museum, CologneThis Market Scene - a painting in vertical - shows a column of sea food on the left, building up and culminating in a ray and - directly opposite, on the right - a large number of fruits of the field and the garden. Wedged between this enormous abundance of produce, the farmer and his wife appear to be mere appendages whose job is only that of proudly pointing with silent gestures to the victuals that are on offer.The ostentatious wealth of fruit and vegetables in the market scenes of Aertsen and Beuckelaer may lead to the false conclusion that the population had plenty to eat. But although more was being offered on the markets, this did not meet the demands of the urban population, who had to pay exorbitant prices for agricultural produce in comparison to what they actually earned. And so, the horn-of-plenty motif of these market pictures reflects far more the perception of those who benefited, that is, the newly-rich farmers. In this way the artist emphasized the commercial aesthetics of agricultural products from the farmers' fields and gardens, products that were meant to arouse in the viewer the desire to buy, though not in the sense of present-day advertising.However, this does not exclude the possibility of ambivalent reasoning behind such paintings. While stimulating people's cravings and appealing to their needs, they often contained a subtle element of criticism, particularly in Aertsen's biblically motivated pictures. This criticism concerned the contradiction between people's consumer habits and the demand of temperance ("fasting"). While this critical element was still obvious in Aertsen's paintings, it seems to have disappeared almost completely in Beuckelaer's.This painting has a multiple theme. The abundance of the market could be at the same time a representation of the Four Elements and an allegory of the Five Senses. Also the market woman is being pestered by a bird-catcher, who is gripping a duck round the neck with obvious erotic overtones - as well as a realistic representation. The painting is also a moral lesson, extolling moderation and restraint in contrast to the physical and sensual pleasured offered, for instance, in the plumpness of the fruit. In other paintings Aertsen introduced a religious scene in the background by way of admonition.