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Picture of the Month


What with being abroad and ill, January is halfway through, so it doesn't make much sense to prepare a January pic.

Market Scene by Louise Moillon

- for Oriana -

According to the Web Gallery of Art, where I found this picture, the painting is not dated. Louise Moillon is a French painter who lived 1610-1696. Lacking experience with French middle and lower class costume of the 17th century, I can only roughly date it. It is obviously not the Spanish-influenced style of the early 17th century.

What about the Flemish-looking style as depicted by Callot and Bosse? "The Chemist at the sickbed" (1630s/40s) by Bosse shows a woman whose jacket sleeves and collar are very similar to those of the woman in the middle. In the "Printer's workshop", dated 1646, we see a hat much like the one on the beggar (or pickpocket?) to the right. And finally, Moillon has left us another painting of a fruit dealer, dated 1630 by the plate in the Louvre, who is dressed much like this one. Let's say we're looking at a painting of the 1630s or 40s, then.

Our fruit dealer here wears a white linen cap with a medium-wide band that leaves the front hair free, and a voluminous back that must be either stiffened or filled with a lot of hair to keep that shape. Her partlet has a large collar that imitates the lace collars of the upper class (see Musical Society by Bosse). The bodice is closed in front and apparently boned - see the parallel lines that look like boning tunnels? The 3/4-length sleeves are made of the same fabric and either laced to the bodice or sewn in.

The woman in the middle waers the serious black of the respectable middle class woman. It's impossible to see whether she wears a (black) cap or not. She wears a similar collar, but of very fine, translucent linen. The square neckline is typical of the time; in the course of the 1650s, it will be replaced by a horizontal neckline as seen in Vermeer and Metsu paintings.


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