Shopping scenes were a favoured subject for Dutch artists and collectors from the seventeenth century onwards. The young woman testing a melon suggests a warning of the deceitfulness of appearances, for the emblem of a woman with a melon was accompanied by the moralist Jacob Cats with the comment that ‘Friends are like the melon,/ from ten often not one is good’. The subject may also refer to the seduction of Pomona by Vertumnus, disguised as an old woman. Vertumnus and Pomona were the god and goddess of gardens, orchards and ripening fruit, and so particularly appropriate deities to be evoked in the context of a greengrocer’s shop. The lavish display of produce is rendered in minute detail and affords the artist an opportunity to display his ability to evoke material textures in much the same way as a still-life painter.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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