The Kitchenmaid

From an earlier set of engravings by Hollar, Ornatus Muliebris, published in a book in 1640. These were exclusively English women, mostly pretty high class, but this one is supposed to be a servant of the kitchen, although she must be in her Sunday best as there is a lot of decorative edging here. She has a lace edged coif on her head, plain linen neckerchief and a waistcoat with gathered sleeves that have some decoration, possibly applied embroidery or simple lace.  She has two petticoat skirts, the outer one is also decorated along the lower edge. Her shoes are heeled and fashionable and are raised up on pattens to keep her out of the mud. In her basket are artichokes and some kind of root vegetable, possibly purple carrots or radishes.

Is this a servant or someone of higher status pretending to be a kitchenmaid. Who knows?


5 Comments to “The Kitchenmaid”

  1. I could really do with a basket like that for the garden. They still wear clogs here in Asturias: they are called madreñas and they have two parallel bars across the base to keep you out of the cow poop.

  2. Servants were well dressed by their employers as it was a reflection of their wealth and status. So a ‘kitchenmaid’ would be well dressed by the standards by which we judge them, which tend to be Victorian.

  3. or a Marie Antoinette like fantasy dress up/down!

  4. Servants could be regarded as extended family, as can be seen from Pepys’ diary. Pattens were impractical for walking any distance- they would be slipped on for nipping out… Yes, lovely basket, you can feel it flex and stretch- Hollar, master of texture.

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