Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables

Painted by Nathaniel Bacon in the 1620s. It hangs in the Tate gallery in London. I make no apology for this early picture as it is such a great painting and shows what is thought to be common clothing still current in the 1640s.  The cookmaid is dressed in a smock, edged with simple lace around the neck, with what looks like a petticoat in the style that has a low cut upper body section either sewn or laced in to the skirts below. She also has some fabric sleeves seemingly pinned over the sleeves of her linen smock, and very smartly dressed hair, which would normally be the preserve of a higher status woman. I wonder if this is a real cook maid smartened up, or someone playing a role. Note that if she was going out, rather than sitting coquettishly by the window, she would wear a waistcoat to hide her “modesty”.

The vegetables that appear in the picture, although they would never be all in season at the same time, (making this still life somewhat of a fantasy picture) are also worth a look. Amongst the selection (Bacon was also a keen gardener, or maybe more properly horticulturalist) are some rather modern looking cabbages, (or coleworts as they were also known), artichokes,, some nice purple carrots (the orange variety is a modern cultivar), parsnips, turnips, onions, marrows, pumpkins, apples, pears, plums and figs. I’m sure I’ve missed some, there are so many different types.

Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables and Fruit c.1620-5

Shame on me, I almost forgot the melons. MATRON!

Screen Shot 2012-12-18 at 08.47.27

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One Comment to “Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables”

  1. She does have exceptional melons

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