Economic Botany

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 397–408 | Cite as

Use of paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries to study the history of domesticated plants

  • A. C. Zeven
  • W. A. Brandenburg


Paintings produced in Flanders and Holland from the 16th to the 19th centuries are useful sources for a study of the evolution of domesticated crops. They show many types of vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals that are either not described or scantly mentioned in the literature of that period. So we come across “really red” cabbage, which may have been calledroosken, and cauliflower with stems some 25 cm long. We further notice many colour variants of grapes, study of which may well provide information on the variation present in the crop at the time. Spikes of wheat and barley were rarely depicted. The few spikes of wheat shown resemble the varietyZeeuwse Witte, a landrace replaced around 1900 Many paintings and illustrations by Flemish and Dutch artists have been distributed all over the world. These works can therefore be investigated in many places for information on the history of domesticated crops.


Economic Botany Brassica Oleracea Domesticate Plant Cucurbita Pepo Juglans Regia 
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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Zeven
    • 1
  • W. A. Brandenburg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant BreedingAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Plant TaxonomyAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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