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Metropolitan Museum Show Depicts Dutch Foodways at the Time of Hudson’s Discovery of New York

Curious about what the the 17th century Dutch ate around the time Henry Hudson first spotted Manhattan in 1609?

Then walk across Central Park to the Met Museum. There, you’ll find a small exhibit of

Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art

some of Vermeer’s masterpieces. Aside from being in the company of some of the world’s greatest works of art, you’ll be treated to an intimate view of Dutch domestic life. Food and its preparation are everywhere in these works.

The centerpiece is Vermeer’s Milkmaid, a luminous portrait of a young woman making what appears to be bread pudding. On loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the painting portrays the milkmaid pouring milk from a red ceramic pitcher into a bowl (the Met displays similar artifacts in a glass case near the painting). On the table are rounds of crusty bread that look as if they could have come right from the ovens of the Sullivan Street Bakery.

Also in the exhibit are the works of artists who painted around the same time as Vermeer. Everywhere, you get a glimpse of kitchen life. There are carrots and tomatoes arrayed on a kitchen table, sides of glistening beef, baskets of eggs, and chickens and rabbits laid out  in a market stall.

The show will be on view until Nov. 29.

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