Costume Picture Gallery: In the Kitchen and Market

The following is a collection of images of working women that should provide good ideas for typical clothing for the women in the kitchen and markets around the Poulet Gauche.  Click on the images to see larger versions of them. For the most part, the upper middle classes and the nobility are not represented here.

Detail from A Kitchen Scene by Pieter Cornelisz van Ryck, 1604. It is a naughty picture in 16th century terms -- all the meat is clearly a metaphor for the pleasures of the flesh, the old woman looks like a matchmaker (or worse, a procuress), and the young cook in the center is clearly in some disarray, with her partlet undone. There is a biblical scene in the background, contrasting the fates of the rich man and the beggar, so the picture is of course a very moral one. We think of this woman as being the "Poulet Gauche Poster Girl."

The best source of information on how to make this sort of woman's outfit can be found at Drea Leed's site on the Fleming Working Woman's Dress.

Market Woman With Vegetable Stall, by Pieter Aertsen, 1567. This woman is wearing a black over-partlet (which ties under the arms) and a white linen partlet with ruff underneath it.  Both are work on top of the bodice and underdress.  This style of bodice seems to be very typical of region. The lacing is very wide apart, the bodice edges falling almost from the shoulder edge, and the underdress shows very clearly through it.  This bodice has little cap sleeves, to which a separate pair of long sleeves are pinned. This is clearly a fall scene, and the woman needs to keep warm!

The Fruit Seller, by Vincenzo Campi, 1580. This is an Italian women, wearing a characteristically Italian style dress. It fastens up the front using hooks and eyes which are not visible. As it typical of the school, this is a rather romanticized young peasant, with her gay ribbons and bits of trim.

Christ and the Adulteress, by Pieter Aertsen, 1559. The biblical scene is being enacted in the background -- the vendors in the market place in the foreground dominate the picture. Many, if not most, market vendors were women.  While their husbands worked the fields or plied their trade, they would go to the market to sell the goods. This scene has men in it also, and from a costuming point of view they are especially interesting. The one in the left foreground is wearing a "thrummed cap" -- a type of cap with fleece bits pulled through and sticking out, rather like a hooked rug. He is wearing wooden sabots with ridges on the bottom to keep the wearing above the mud and muck. He is also wearing what look to our modern eye like trousers -- they are loose, straight-cut, and come to the ankle. He is also wearing a shirt whose simplicity of cut resembes a modern long-sleeved T-shirt. There is an elderly man behind him to the left. He is also wear the same type of trousers and and interesting jacket. This one has long sleeves, and is cropped at the waist, but sometimes the sleeves were short and the jacket came to mid-thigh. It wraps around and fastens at the side. Men are often shown with this garment unfastened and hanging open.

Poultry Vendors, by Joachim de Beuckelaer, 1563. Another market scene of poultry sellers. The woman on the right is wearing a rather sheer collarless partlet over her bodice. The men are wearing their overjackets open and loose, and we have examples of both long loose "pants" and regular hose being worn with them. The fellow on the right is wearing a thrummed cap.

Making Waffles, by Joachim de Beuckalaer, 1550-1560. Another suggestive cooking scene. We see here the same costume elements as before. The older woman in the background is wearing a wimple-like scarf. Although women generally covered their heads in some way, older women and widows were more likely to cover themselves even more.

Kitchen Scene, by Joachim Antonisz Uytaewael, 1605. Another erotic kitchen scene, with the cook spitting a chicken in the center of the picture (apparently a suggestive activity to the 16th century mind). She is wearing the same type of clothing as the woman in the van Ryck kitchen scene, only her partlet is more decently done up. There are two men in the picture. they are wearing trunk hose, gathered to just above the knee. In both cases their nether hose (stockings) are falling down. I think this was probably pretty typical for working men.  The stockings come just above the knee normally and are gartered, usually just below the knee, but since elastic hadn't yet been invented, it would not be untypical for the socks to still end up coming down around your ankles all the time. This scene has wonderful details of redware, cooking utensils, and orange carrots. Most carrots at the time were white.

Detal from Dutch Kitchen, by Pieter Aertsen, 1560. Notice how short the skirt is of the women in the center of the frame -- working women could not afford to wear skirts that would get in the way and trip them up.

Supper at Emmaus, Flemish, 16th c.. This is a great kitchen scene. The biblical event is taking place in the background to the left, but the kitchen is much more interesting.

The Egg Dance, Pieter Aertsen, 1557. This scene is particularly interesting for the male costume. It's one of the few kitchen scenes where male characters dominate over female ones.

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-c. t. iannuzzo