images and descriptions below of canvas art paintings by masters were provided by Jock Stewart
from Sydney. These
masterpieces provide an insight into the the symbolism and significance of
foods in work of art.
The Marvelous Sauce', by
Jehan Georges Vibert
Clerical themes were popular subjects in the late nineteenth century and
scenes such as The Marvelous Sauce, centered in the kitchen, were common
in the work of numerous artists. Everything about the scene—the large
iron stove with elaborate hood and scrollwork, the numerous brass
cooking pots, the abundance of food, the size of the room, and the
patterned tile floor—reflects the wealth of the household, which belongs
to the man on the right. He is a cardinal, a high-ranking official in
the Catholic Church. The coat of arms on the side of the stove implies
that he is also a member of a noble family.
A drama is unfolding in this impressive kitchen. The cardinal himself,
wearing an apron over his official red robe, has presumably prepared the
sauce in the pot he holds. His exuberant gesture and the look of delight
on his face imply great pleasure with the creation. The chef, who also
has sampled the sauce, is perhaps of a different opinion.
In spite of the humorous nature of this painting, Vibert was gently
criticizing the clergy. The size of the cardinal and his enthusiasm for
the sauce might imply that he spends more time in the kitchen and dining
room than he does in church carrying out his religious obligations.
Cook Maid with Vegetables by
Nathaniel Bacon was particularly known for his extraordinary, large-scale
kitchen and market scenes which were dominated by still-life depictions of
enormous vegetables and fruit, and often included a buxom maid, which depicts a
young woman, sitting by a window, surrounded by a bountiful harvest, the maid's
cleavage echoes the opened melon the table.
One art historian makes the point that whilst our immediate response as a modern
Western audience might be to identify the painting as salacious (almost an early
seventeenth-century version of the Page Three girl!’) the critic insists that
the painting is not meant to be read this way. Instead, he argues, that the
woman represents Ceres, the goddess of plenty, and that the painting is an
optimistic and life affirming celebration of abundance:
To produce abundance such as this, in a world where general famines occurred
every decade, was to tiptoe back into Eden.
According to the critic, Cookmaid with Vegetables firmly asserts its faith in a
world riddled with famine and poverty. By evoking the Garden of Eden, it invites
us to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation, but by keeping the context firmly
within a contemporary setting, Bacon is drawing on a tradition of ‘secular
parables’. Like religious parables, they seek to ‘provoke, tease, challenge,
illuminate and surprise’ but whilst affirming our faith, they are set firmly
within the secular world:
Secular parables, then, are part of God’s revelation. They are this without
losing their secular character or undergoing any inner transformation, without
any question of transfiguration or transubstantation. As part of the process, as
part of God’s exercise of freedom, they acquire a function and capability as
thus exercised which they did not have intrinsically.
For the critic Nathaniel Bacon’s painting is firmly part of this tradition,
inviting us to reflect on the inherent beauty of the world we inhabit. It offers
a ‘glowing faith in the goodness of created order’, a life-affirming
counterpoint to a world of ‘savagery, poverty and climate change.’
Here are four paintings by Flemish
artist Joachim Beuckelaer in his Four Elements series. Many of his paintings
contain scenes of kitchen and markets, with religious allusions in the
1. Water A Fish Market with the Miraculous Draught of Fishes in the Background.
The artist has depicted twelve different identifiable varieties of fish. Some
art historians believe that the twelve represent the twelve disciples. It is
thought that he was the first painter to depict the market fish stalls at
Antwerp. Before us we gaze at the stall holders and we start to feel a little
uncomfortable with the way they stare out at us. The older lady to the left has
a resigned expression on her face as if it is “just another day selling fish”.
She is not smiling. She looks tired as she holds out the tray of fish for us to
examine. The man to the right, who maybe her son, rests his right hand on a
trestle table as he proudly shows us the underbelly of a large fish. It is
interesting to look at the left background and see how Beuckelaer has used steep
perspective in tHhe way the artist depicts the bustling street going off into
However what is more fascinating and in some ways more bizarre is what we see
though the central arch in the background. This is not part of the landscape to
the rear of the fish market but is in fact a scene from the bible. It is the
time when Christ appeared to the disciples. This was the third sighting of
Christ since the Resurrection and the scene is based on the Gospel by Luke 5:
1-11, in which we are told that Jesus told the despondent fishermen, including
Simon Peter, who were washing their nets after a fruitless days fishing, to “put
out to the deep water and once again let down their nets”. Peter questioned the
merit of this advice but did so and they caught innumerable fish and this has
been referred to as the Miracle of the Fishermen.
To get a much better view of this painting I suggest you try the National
Gallery Website (below) and then you can zoom in on aspects of the painting. The
2. Earth. A Fruit and
Vegetable Market with the Flight into Egypt in the Background.
This is the second in the series entitled Earth. A Fruit and Vegetable
Market with the Flight into Egypt in the Background. In this painting we
are again standing in front of a market stall. This time the scene is
set in the countryside, outside a large thatched-roof farmhouse, and
before us we can see laid out an abundance of fruit and vegetables,
symbolizing “Earth” as this is where the produce has come from. It was
common practice in Dutch and Flemish paintings of the 16th and 17th
century to symbolize the Elements by reference to the natural world.
There are sixteen different varieties of fruit and vegetables on display
in the painting. The artist has used some “artistic licence” when he
painted the various fruit and vegetables as not all would be available
at the same time of year and of course there was no such thing as
refrigeration in the seventeenth century. It is truly a depiction of a
“land of plenty” where there is no place for hunger.
The spectrum of colours used by the artist has enhanced the painting.
The fruit is painted with such realism. They look so succulent and they
lay there tilted slightly towards us to give us an even better view of
everything and tempt us to try some of the produce. You almost want to
move forward and pick a grape or sample a mulberry. All seems so
mouth-watering which is a testament to the artist’s great ability to
paint still-life subjects.
It is difficult to decide who are the buyers and who are the sellers in
the painting. Before us, we have the two young females in their
colourful attire. The lady in the red jacket with her sleeves rolled up
has rosy cheeks which has probably come from working outside so much.
The lady with the lace cap and yellow sleeved dress would seem to be
dressed slightly better than the others and may hold the position of
head cook in a wealthy household who has come down to choose the best
produce for the ingredients needed for the meals she is about to
prepare. I love the way the way Beuckelaer depicts the vegetables
tumbling from her hands. It makes you almost want to rush forward and
catch the errant cabbage before it hits the ground. To the right of the
main figures we see a young man and woman by a well and one wonders if
they are the stall holders who use the water from the well to wash the
fruit before putting it on display. The man stares out at us with his
elbow on the edge of the well as he takes a rest.
Once again the artist has included a scene from the bible into the
painting. Look to the left background and you can see in the distance, a
small arched bridge, on which Mary and Joseph are crossing. Joseph leads
the way on foot guiding the mule on which sits Mary with the infant
Jesus and is a portrayal of the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt to avoid
the clutches of King Herod.
I love this painting and I love how Beuckelaer has painted the produce.
It is so life-like. The colours he has used enhance the painting and
make it look so real.
To get a much better view of this painting I suggest you try the
National Gallery Website (below) and then you can zoom in on aspects of
the painting. The website is:
3. Air. A Poultry Market
with the Prodigal Son in the Background.
Here we look at the third painting of the set with the subtitle “Air” A
Poultry Market with the Prodigal Son in the Background.
In the “Water” painting we were shown a fish market and the connection
with the Element of Water was that of the habitat of the food. The same
went for the “Earth” painting when we saw the fruits and vegetables of
the earth. Here the subject is “Air” where we are treated to the sight
of the “food” which occupies the air above ground, namely birds, fowl
and rabbits. We are also treated to the sight of products which come
indirectly from the land such as eggs and cheeses. We are at a poultry
market and there is an abundance of food on offer. During Beuckelaer’s
lifetime he painted numerous “market scenes” and at that time the art
market was flooded with such a genre.
In the painting we see the rosy-cheeked stall holder sitting alongside
the produce. It is a well-stocked market stall with a variety of dead
fowl and small birds. We can also see inside a green wicker cage some
live hens. The man at the stall, wearing the leather jerkin, has hold of
a hen by its feet having just taken it out of the cage to show it to a
would-be purchaser. To the left we observe a well dressed woman. She too
is holding a hen in her right hand whilst her left hand rests atop a
copper flagon which may contain milk or wine.
In the central background we see a road leading to the sea with a small
cargo boat just setting sail with the crewman starting to hoist the
sails. On the quay we can just make out some barrels which have been
off-loaded from the craft.
So where is the Biblical story, which the artist is known to have
incorporated into each of the four paintings? In this painting it is not
as obvious. If however you concentrate on this road leading to the sea
you will spot on the left hand side just behind some baskets of produce
a man and a woman. She has her hand on his arm greeting him. He is
leaning backwards against her, almost slumped. This was the Biblical
addition of the painting by Beuckelaer, symbolizing the Prodigal Son
returning home. it seems as if he is inebriated and has just about made
it back home.
This is a a very colourful painting, full of activity. I get great
pleasure looking around the painting at the various characters and their
expressions and try and work out what is happening and what the artist
had in his mind as he put paintbrush to canvas.
To get a much better view of this painting I suggest you try the
National Gallery Website (below) and then you can zoom in on aspects of
the painting. The website is:
4. Fire. A Kitchen Scene with
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in the Background.
This painting moves away from the market stalls where we saw women buying
vegetables, poultry and fish and that were featured in the previous three works
of art. Here, we move to a kitchen scene in which the produce that has been
bought at the various market stalls will be cooked. To do the cooking one needs
fire, hence the subtitle to this painting.
This painting, like the other three was completed in Beuckelaer’s studio for an
Italian patron. The abundance of food in the paintings did not mirror life in
the Netherlands at the time as the locals lived under the oppressive regime of
the Duke of Alba, a Spanish general who was the governor of the Spanish
Netherlands and who was renowned for his cruelty and atrocities against the
Flemish and Dutch people.
We look at the kitchen scene from a slightly elevated position. This is a busy
kitchen. Probably more than just busy, I think it borders on disarray, almost
chaos by the look at the tumbling kitchen bowls in the centre of the
composition. Whilst the women are hard at work, the only male in the picture,
who is probably a servant or steward drinks to excess and if not careful will
end up in the fire! The two women with him seem less than amused at his antics.
Look carefully at the produce. See how Beuckelaer has exquisitely painted the
various dead poultry and the sides of ham. No detail has been spared. Look at
the way he has painted the earthenware kitchen utensils, some glistening in the
sunlight which streams through the kitchen window.
On the floor we can see mussel shells. These sometimes have erotic connotations
when seen in paintings. However there may be another meaning to the scattering
of these shells in the kitchen scene. The Dutch Golden Age painter of
allegories, Adriaen van de Venne said that because mussels stay in their shells
they “can be compared to the blessed women-folk who speak modestly and
virtuously and always look after their household. So maybe Beuckelaer’s
inclusion of the shells on the floor was a tribute to the hard working women in
his kitchen scene.
Finally if you look through the door on the left-hand side, you can see another
kitchen scene. This is the Biblical story which Beuckelaer has introduced into
each of his four paintings. This scene is set in the kitchen of the house of
Mary and her sister Martha in which we see Jesus who has come to visit them. The
story according to the Bible is that Martha complains to Jesus that although she
is working hard in the kitchen, all Mary does is stand around listening to his
words. Jesus reproached her saying that Mary’s contemplation was in fact a more
important form of her work.
This biblical story was often told to servants in the sixteenth century with
sole purpose of stopping them complaining about the amount of servile work they
had to carry out. I am not sure that this “parable” would find much favour in
present day workers!
To get a much better view of this painting I suggest you try the National
Gallery Website and then you can zoom in on aspects of the painting. The website
The Butcher's Shop by Annibale
This painting by Annibale Carracci does not represent a specific subject from
literature or mythology, but simply a scene from everyday life. Here, Carracci
shows the four main activities that take place in a butcher's shop: slaughter,
the dressing of the meat, the weighing of the meat and finally the purchase by
Some art historians hold that The Butcher's Shop could have been executed for
the powerful Butcher's Guild of Bologna, or for the influential and wealthy
Canobi family, who owned a chain of butcher and livestock shops in the city.
The Butcher's Shop Analysis:
As with most of his paintings, Carracci's preparation for The Butcher's Shop was
Here, the precisely depicted meats as well as the realistic poses of the
butchers bespeak an intent observation of nature.
The boyish model is most likely a workshop apprentice and his pose is carefully
studied. The artist’s butchers are depicted as dignified, upstanding men, not
dirty, mentally-challenged laborers. Their aprons are spotlessly white and their
poses are graceful and dignified. They don't engage with the viewer, but are
instead absorbed in their work.
Further emphasizing the high status of his figures, the pose of the kneeling
butcher in the centre of the composition is a direct quotation from Raphael's
The Sacrifice of Noah which was known to the artist from an engraving.
In Carracci's composition, it is the customers who are the artist's target, not
the butchers. Note how the Swiss halberdier awkwardly juggles his staff as he
reaches for his change across a surprisingly prominent codpiece, suspiciously
glaring at the butcher to make sure he is weighing the meat correctly.
The old crone buying meat in the back of the composition is similarly
ridiculous. She gazes at the butcher fetching her order with an almost
Carracci employs a sober palette limited to earth tones. The fleshy reds and
browns of the meat dominate the entire canvas, with the exception of the bright
white of the butchers' smocks.
These two paintings (The
Butcher's Shop and the Fishmonger's Shop) were originally part of a
series of four. There are close stylistic connections between these
canvases and the works of the Dutch masters Aertsen and Beuckelaer, as
well as with the Butcher's Shop by Annibale Carracci.
The Butcher’s Shop by Bartolomeo
Passerotti describes the butcher's shop with a combination of realistic
precision in the rendering of details and irony in the characterization of the
people. In late sixteenth century art the theme of the butcher shop was
moralistically interpreted as an allegorical warning about the temptations of
flesh and of indulgence in erotic passions without caution. According to the
counter-reformation precepts laid down by Gabriele Paleotti (1582), veiled moral
messages could be transmitted through comical pictures.
In both pictures the sparrow appears: as this bird's Italian name is the
passerotto. The artist used it as a type of pictorial signature.
The Fishmonger's Shop by
The fish shop is rich with the most minute naturalistic description,
with the woman holing up the blowfish and with various types of sea
shells on display reflecting Passerotti's interest in naturalistic
study. A participant in the scientific culture of Bologna. Passerotti
created his own varied collection of curiosities and monstrosities.
In both pictures the sparrow appears: as this bird's Italian name is the
passerotto. The artist used it as a type of pictorial signature. Looking
for the sparrow can be as much fun as children have trying to find
Kitchen Scene by Joachim
The scene takes place in a large room suggestive of the kitchen of a
castle or noble country residence. The foreground depicts a pantry full
of foodstuffs. A mallard duck lies on top of a pile of napkins, with a
hen to the left. A cockerel hangs from a beam, next to a salmon steak.
The table, in the foreground to the left, is laden with a large dish
containing chestnuts and fruit, including a lemon – an exotic luxury in
northern Europe at the time. A leg of veal lies on top of everything
else, surrounded by storage jars. Above it we see a metal cooking-pot,
hanging from a beam, silhouetted against an open view of a landscape in
the background. The right-hand side of the picture is dominated by the
figure of a serving-girl, just back from a visit to the market, carrying
a basket of vegetables and fruit: a cabbage, carrots, cherries and
gherkins. Behind her, we see a huge room with a large fireplace. A cook
is pouring sauce over a piece of poultry cooking on a spit. A brazier is
heating up under her skirts, and she is being fondled by the figure of
an old man.
The heap of foodstuffs fills almost half of this colourful composition.
The still-life itself is framed by the red of the beams, and the
serving-girl's dress. The composition is also punctuated by large areas
of white, from the laundry hanging in the top left-hand corner, to the
pile of napkins, and the serving-girl's blouse. The careful
scene-setting, and the organization of the colours, contribute to the
painting's "aesthetic of opulence." But as so often in large "kitchen
pieces" of this type, the everyday scene expresses a moral message, too.
In all of the kitchen pieces attributed to Joachim Beuckelaer (and his
uncle and master Pieter Aertsen) the protagonists seem gripped by a kind
of frenzied sensuality. Some contemporary commentators identified the
serving classes' daily physical contact with foodstuffs, and the heat of
the kitchens, as the root causes of their apparently unbridled
sensuality and excess. This is clearly expressed in the scene depicted
in the background of the picture, and may also be implicit in the
representation of the serving-girl's hand, resting on the rounded form
of the cabbage.
Butcher's Stall with
the Flight into Egypt by Pieter Aertsen
In the 16th and 17th centuries it was quite common for theologians to
see a slaughtered animal as symbolizing the death of a believer.
Allusions to the 'weak flesh' (cf. Matthew 16:41) may well have been
associated with Aertsen's Butcher's Stall where - like on his fruit and
vegetable stalls - a seemingly infinite abundance of meat has been
In the foreground tables, pots, plates, a barrel, some wickerwork chairs
and baskets serve as supports and containers for huge hunks of meat,
pig's trotters, soups, chains of sausages hanging down and freshly
slaughtered poultry. In the background there is an open, shingle-roofed
studded stable with a pole from which further pieces of meat are
suspended, including a pig's head, a twisted sausage and some lard.
Through the stable we can see a garden scene. On the right, in the
middle ground, a farmer is filling a large jug, and behind him we can
see a slaughtered and gutted pig, a motif which Beuckelaer also used as
an independent motif.
The Kitchen Maid by Pieter
Cornelisz van Rijck.
The painting shows a central female figure in a larder surrounded by
still-life elements. She poses with her hand on a cabbage – a common
erotic allusion i in paintings of this kind.
Kitchen Still Life by Pieter
Cornelisz van Rijck.
This painting fascinates me because all the different types of meat, fish,
vegetables, game birds hanging and the fishmonger trying to sell the cook some
fresh fish through the open window.
Market scene. Pieter
Sausage-Making by David Teniers
Here we see the cook making sausages with the intestines of the pig, which has
been cut wide open for all to see and a cat enjoys some of the trimmings.
Luncheon of the Boating Party by
Renoir shows a group of young people who have obviously enjoyed their lunch and
are relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise along the Seine river in
The painting reflects the changing character of French society in the mid- to
late 19th century. The restaurant welcomed customers of many classes, including
businessmen, society women, artists, actresses, writers, critics, seamstresses,
and shop girls. This diverse group embodied a new, modern Parisian society.
There are many ways to break this painting up and one of the things to focus on
is the food and drink that the people are consuming.
The diagonal of the railing serves to demarcate the two halves of the
composition, one densely packed with figures, the other all but empty, save for
the two figures of the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her
brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr, which are made prominent by this contrast. In
this painting Renoir has captured a great deal of light. The main focus of light
is coming from the large opening in the balcony, beside the large singleted man
in the hat. The singlets of both men in the foreground and the table-cloth all
work together to reflect this light and send it through the whole composition.
As he often did in his paintings, Renoir included several of his friends in
Luncheon of the Boating Party. Among them are the following:
*The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right.
Renoir's future wife, seamstress, Aline Charigot, is in
the foreground playing with a small dog.
On the table is fruit and wine.
* Charles Ephrussi—wealthy amateur art historian, collector, and editor of the
Gazette des Beaux-Arts—appears wearing a top hat in
*The younger man to whom Ephrussi appears to be speaking, more casually attired
in a brown coat and cap, may be Jules
Laforgue, his personal secretary and also a poet and critic.
*Actress Ellen Andrée drinks from a glass in the center of the composition.
Seated across from her is Baron Raoul Barbier.
*Placed within but peripheral to the party are the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine
Fournaise and her brother,
* Alphonse Fournaise, Jr., both sporting traditional straw boaters and appearing
to the left side of the image. Alphonsine is the
smiling woman leaning on the railing;
*Alphonse, who was responsible for the boat rental, is the leftmost figure.
*Also wearing boaters are figures appearing to be Renoir's close friends Eugène
Pierre Lestringez and Paul Lhote, himself an
artist. Renoir depicts them flirting with the actress Jeanne Samary in the upper
righthand corner of the painting.
In the right foreground, Gustave Caillebotte wears a white boater's shirt and
flat-topped straw boater's hat as he sits backwards in his chair next to actress
Angèle Legault and journalist Adrien Maggiolo. An art patron, painter, and
important figure in the impressionist circle, Caillebotte was also an avid
boatman and drew on that subject for several works.
A Bar at the
Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet.
The painting is filled with fascinating details specific to the
Folies-Bergère. The distant pair of green feet in the upper left-hand
corner belong to a trapeze artist, who is performing above the
The beer which is depicted, Bass Pale Ale (noted by the red triangle on
the label), would have catered not to the tastes of Parisians, but to
those of English tourists, suggesting a British clientele. Manet has
signed his name on the label of the bottle at the bottom left, combining
the centuries-old practice of self-promotion in art. One interpretation
of the painting has been that far from only being a seller of the wares
shown on the counter, the woman is herself one of the wares for sale;
conveying undertones of prostitution. The man in the background may be a
But for all its specificity to time and place, it is worth noting that,
should the background of this painting indeed be a reflection in a
mirror on the wall behind the bar as suggested by some critics, the
woman in the reflection would appear directly behind the image of the
woman facing forward. Neither are the bottles reflected accurately or in
like quantity for it to be a reflection. These details were criticized
in the French press when the painting was shown. The assumption is
faulty when one considers that the postures of the two women, however,
are quite different and the presence of the man to whom the second woman
speaks marks the depth of the subject area. Indeed many critics view the
faults in the reflection to be fundamental to the painting as they show
a double reality and meaning to the work. One interpretation is that the
reflection is an interaction earlier in time that results in the
subject's expression in the painting's present.
According to some of Manet's friends the woman is known as Suzon, a
young woman who worked at the Folies-Bergère
Suzon stands alone in a crowded room. The look on her face is detached,
melancholy, distracted from her job serving at the bar in the vast
crowded room reflected in the glass behind her. There is a locket around
her neck that is a token of another life, a love a long way from this
This is an unusual portrait because it is of someone at work, and
someone who to our eyes is defined by her work and is profoundly unhappy
with it. She is alienated from her surroundings, as if there is a glass
pane between her and everyone else in the room - the drinkers,
chatters-up, lovers, liars, thieves and businessmen. Manet conveys
Suzon's estrangement from her world by the fact that she is the only
person in this painting who is not reflected in glass. Everyone else in
the painting is seen in the big bar mirror: the quickly painted, harshly
reflected faces and bodies, a woman in gloves with her lover or client,
someone else looking at the scene with binoculars. They are objects she
is looking at - but at one remove, through a glass darkly.
The only solid realities are the marble bar top and the bottles - crème
de menthe, champagne, beer - a bowl of oranges, two flowers delicately
placed in a vase. She has both hands firmly on the bar as if she needs
to touch something solid, in case she should be carried away by the
vortex of light and shapes reflected in the mirror.
This is not a realistic painting of the Folies-Bergère. Suzon did work
there, but she posed for the painting in Manet's studio, behind a table
laden with bottles. He merged this image with rapid painted sketches he
made at the Folies-Bergère. There is no attempt to make the image
cohere: there is, as contemporary critics pointed out, an inconsistency
to the relationship between the reflections in the mirror and the real
things. The man in the top hat approaching Suzon in a sinister way in
the top right hand corner of the mirror would in reality have to be
standing with his back to us in front of the bar, and Suzon herself
should be reflected in an entirely different place.
Café des Incoherents by Santiago
I love this painting mainly because of the name of the café, and it reminds me
of many of the cafes that I used to go to in Montmartre. The café is at 16 bis,
rue Fontaine, Montmartre.
The artist, Maurice Utrillo is in the background reading a newspaper, and Casas
sits in the foreground at a long wooden table, mesmerized by the young woman
Whenever I see paintings such as the next two I imagine that it must have to
clientel such as these that Escoffier served meals to at the Savoy and Ritz
hotels at the turn of the last century.
The End of Dinner by Jules
The above work is also referred to as "The Dinner Party", for obvious reasons.
It depicts Grun, his wife, and a number of their friends (including Jules Cheret
and Antoine Guillemet) engaged in after dinner revelry. Guillemet is sitting on
the right hand side of the painting, leaning on his hand. He is facing (and
talking to) Grun's wife Juliette Toutain-Grun. You can see Cheret and Grun in
the back/middle of the painting, Grun slightly obscured by Cheret.
Apples and Oranges by Paul
This is one of the most sumptuous of all of Cezanne’s still-life’s. The complex
arrangement of fruit, dishes, jug and drapery on a table which slopes
dramatically upwards from the left is given stability by the zigzag line created
by the edges of the white table cloth. The focal point of the painting, the
solitary apple at the front of the table, is at the geometrical centre of the
picture plane, where the two diagonals cross. The main objects are arranged
roughly in a triangle or pyramid with its base resting on a horizontal line just
below the midpoint which might also coincide with the tabletop.
The Kitchen Table by Paul Cezanne.
This is an interesting painting because the artist pushes the table and cloth
close to the viewer, cropping them at the bottom. Individual pots sit uneasily
on an impossibly tilted plane of table-top. The grey ginger-pot has no surface
to sit on, and neither has the large basket at the back. But they demand their
space, painted from above , or front-on, as the composition requires. Similarly,
the table, cupboard and chair line up diagonally on the left, none holding any
probable perspective. A wooden leg intrudes on the right, casting an
unbelievable shadow, and belong to what? It could belong to an errant stool, or
ladder leg perhaps. But compositionally, it continues the frame around the
objects which begin in the lower-left corner with the table edge, and is taken
up by the line where the back wall meets the floor. The internal frames compress
the composition even further, and force an overall lozenge shape.
Yet each distorted element has its convincing volume, with a glorious harmony of
red, green and yellow fruit. Warm hues of wood and cane contrast with the cooler
white, grey and purple of cloth and ceramics. The loop of the ginger-pot is
repeated larger in the basket handle, smaller and vertically in the handle of
the coffee-pot, accentuating the rounded shapes of the fruit. All these circular
forms cascade diagonally down the canvas, through the folds of the two white
cloths which double and then unify the composition. Kitchen Table is a very rich
and variously populated still-life in Cezanne’s painting out-put, with details
such as the floral decoration on the china coffee jug repeated on the round pot,
then written large in the flower painting on the wall.
Some of the objects in these painting are still preserved in Cézanne’s Chemin
des Lauves studio, Aix, France.
The Kitchen Table by Andre
This painting is one of the best known examples of kitchen utensils. The
composition is formed by two opposed triangles with apexes merging at
the centre of the frying pan. The upper triangle holds the rounded
objects, the lower one the long flat objects. These items correspond to
each other from left to right; the black lettuce basket and the white
soup plate; the loaf of bread repeating the shape and colour of the
wooden corkscrew; the iron wires of the lettuce basket repeating the
rods of the grill.
The Brioche by Jean Chardin
Jean Chardin was one of greatest masters of Still Life in the history of art.
The items he portrayed from his own home were selected for their shapes,
textures and colours, rather than for any symbolic meaning they may have had.
They were simply painted to convey the visual pleasure he experienced in looking
at them. Chardin’s paintings appeal greatly to modern eyes accustomed to the
simplified forms of Cézanne, and the Cubists. They all share the same ideals: a
unified composition reached through the analytical drawing of pure forms,
uncluttered by emotion and without any superfluous detail.
Nighthawks by Edward
This painting Nighthawks is considered Hopper's most famous painting, as
well as one of the most recognizable in American art.
I really like the vast array of colours used in the painting Night +
brilliant interior of cheap restaurant. Bright items: cherry wood
counter + tops of surrounding stools; light on metal tanks at rear
right; brilliant streak of jade green tiles ¾ across canvas—at base of
glass of window curving at corner. Light walls, dull yellow ocre door
into kitchen right.
There’s a very good looking blond boy in white (coat, cap) inside
counter. Girl in red blouse, brown hair eating sandwich. Man night hawk
(beak) in dark suit, steel grey hat, black band, blue shirt (clean)
holding cigarette. Other figure dark sinister back—at left. Light side
walk outside pale greenish. Darkish red brick houses opposite. Sign
across top of restaurant, dark—Phillies 5c cigar. Picture of cigar.
Outside of shop dark, green. Note: bit of bright ceiling inside shop
against dark of outside street—at edge of stretch of top of window.
I really like the solitude of the patrons. It reminds me of being in a
bar late at night /early morning and just being there.
Here is an establishing
shot from "Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment", one of several
references to Nighthawks in the animated TV series The Simpsons in 1997
This painting would have
to be the most famous painting about food, as we see in Leonardo da
Vinci's The Last Supper, Christ celebrating his last meal with his
disciples before his death.. This painting is one of the artist's most
well-known works and, together with the Mona Lisa, was one of the two
paintings that helped establish Leonardo's fame as a painter. The work
was commissioned by the Duke Lodovico Sforza, Leonardo's patron, for the
refectory (dining hall) of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in
This copy by an unknown artist of the 16th century is a copy of Leonardo's Last
Supper. It is almost as large as the original and displays a wealth of detail,
which is no longer visible in the Leonardo's wall-painting due to the extensive
damage it has suffered.
It can be seen in the Da Vinci Museum, Abbey of Tongerlo, Tongerlo, Belgium.
The wall painting, which Leonardo worked on between 1495 and 1498, is not a true
fresco. The painter chose not to paint the piece on wet plaster, since that
would severely limit the amount of time he could spend on the work. Instead he
sealed the stone wall with a layer of resin and then painted over the sealing
layer with tempera. Unfortunately, though this technique allowed him to depict
the scene in exquisite detail, it did not prove very durable. The piece began
deteriorating within a few years of it being finished.
The finished size of the painting was 4.6 by 8.8 meters (roughly 15 by 29 feet).
While the theme was a traditional one for refectories of the time, Leonardo's
realistic style and dramatic depiction of the figures imbued the work with much
more realism and depth, influencing all later paintings of the Last Supper.
Specifically, Leonardo's work shows the moment after Jesus has announced that
one of those sitting at the table will betray him (this episode is described in
Matthew 26:21-22; Mark 14:18-19; Luke 22:21-23; and John 13:21-22). The twelve
apostles react with various degrees of outrage and shock.
The lines of perspective meet in Christ's right eye, thus making him the central
figure of the painting. The rest of the scene is organized in order to emphasize
this centrality. Leonardo grouped the apostles into four groups of three, with
Jesus in the middle. From left to right are, they are:
Group One: Bartholomew, James the Lesser and Andrew form the first group of
three, all of them appearing surprised. Andrew holds both of his hand up in
front of him in a frightened gesture.
Group Two: Judas Iscariot, Simon Peter and John form the second group of three.
Judas is holding a bag of silver in his right hand, while reaching for a piece
of bread with his left. Simon Peter is leaning over the shoulder of John, a
knife held in his right hand, symbolizing his zealous defence of Jesus. John
appears to be swooning.
Prior to Leonardo, it had been traditional to isolate Judas from the rest of the
apostles by either seating him across the table from Jesus, apart from the
others who were traditionally depicted as sitting on only one side, or by giving
all the rest of the apostles and Jesus haloes, and excluding Judas. Leonardo
created a more subtle and thus dramatic effect by swathing Judas in shadow. He
also presented a realistic explanation of Christ's prophetic words that the
first man to share bread with him would also be the betrayer: Jesus and Judas
are shown reaching for the same piece of bread, although everybody's attention
is riveted elsewhere.
Group Three: The third group is made of Thomas, James the Great and Phillip.
These three appear in varying degrees of shock; Thomas, with his hand raised,
and Phillip seem to be requesting some sort of explanation, while James the
Great, between them, appears to be recoiling from Jesus in horror.
Group Four: The last three, Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot appear
to be discussing the matter with each other, in a rendition of Luke 22:23: "They
began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this."
Despite the theory popularized by Dan Brown in his popular novel, The Da Vinci
Code, most scholars agree that the figure next to Jesus is John. The notebooks
of Leonardo da Vinci name all of the disciples in the order in which they are
shown (which is how we come to identify them) and all of the figures in
Leonardo's original sketches have distinctly male faces. It had been traditional
to depict John as boyish and even effeminate, as he was the youngest and
supposedly most devoted of Christ's apostles. It has been reported that the
first person to be painted was Jesus, the person used was a young priest from the
local seminary, when Leonardo da Vinci was looking for a person to use as Judas
he chose an beggar in Naples who told Leonardo that he had already been chosen
for the painting and that he was the person chosen to portray Jesus. This just
shows how cruel life can be.