(b. ca. 1530, Cremona, d. 1591, Cremona)
Oil on canvas
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Occasionally it is hard to distinguish market scenes from the genre of early kitchen scenes which also tended to display still-life features. Similar to the market stall, they often show tables and sideboards with clusters of baskets and bowls full of fruit and vegetables.
Yet despite structural similarities there are still differences with regard to the subject. While market stalls illustrate the commercialisation of agriculture and the principle of agro-economic production, kitchen and pantry paintings are dominated by the aspect of satisfying the needs of domestic economy, usually in a feudal or re-feudalized upper middle class household. Leaving aside the fact that these paintings grossly exaggerate the wealth of the day, the ostentatious display of the fruit of the earth proves that the principles of the 'paterfamilias' literature were observed even in the non-market-oriented system of domestic self-supply. These principles demanded an improved utilization of the soil by extending the agricultural acreage and intensifying agriculture, as well as by improving crop sequences and fertilization and, in part, by transforming ploughed fields into gardens.
The subject of food supply was particularly interest to those who commissioned and bought these paintings. The production and preparation of food were the most important economic problems of society, which explains their central position in contemporary iconography.