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The Greengrocer
  • Date: 1731
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 39 x 32.1 cm
  • Inv: P220
  • Location: East Galleries III
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Further Reading
  • A young woman tests the ripeness of a melon, a motif that suggests a warning against the deceitful nature of appearance. The moralist Jacob Cats accompanied an emblem of a woman with a melon with the comment that ‘Friends are like the melon, / from ten often not one is good.’ This painting may also refer to the seduction of Pomona by Vertumnus, disguised as an old woman, a subject from the classical author Ovid (Metamorphoses, XIV). Vertumnus and Pomona were the god and goddess of gardens, orchards and ripening fruit, and so were particularly appropriate deities to be evoked in the context of a greengrocer’s shop. The lavish display of fruit and vegetables is rendered in minute detail and affords the artist an opportunity to display his ability to evoke a multitude of material textures in much the same way as a still-life painter.