Sometimes I set out to debunk a myth about an 18th century item, and at other times, I’m quite surprised by what I find when looking at a particular item. This is one of those times. When I started looking at paintings (18th c. or earlier) to examine baskets, I expected to find strong utilitarian vessels that would stand the test of time. I did find those, but I also found a great many fancier baskets of designs I didn’t expect.

I find when I post an article readers sometimes take the information quite literally, so let me explain, my focus here is on the somewhat less than utilitarian baskets intended to hold or carry light weight objects, but the strong sturdy baskets were also used for heavier loads. Our choice in baskets should match our purpose when purchasing one. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Quiring Gerritsz van Brekelenkam

Boy with Basket of Bread, Baschenus-Evaristo, 1665

The Water-cress Girl, 1780

Still Life with Fruit, about 1720, author unknown

Nebo, 1737, A Fishmonger’s Stall

An 18th Century Italian painting of an obviously utilitarian basket

This is an 18th century Italian painting sold in 2012 by Christie’s

Dreaming Shepherdess, Francois Boucher
Dreaming Shepherdess, Francois Boucher

Girl with a Basket of Pamphlets

18th Century, Annonymous French painter