Friday, 24 February 2012

National Gallery food paintings

I have selected ten of my favourites painting in the London National Gallery that are related with food from the times of the big master painters.  They are food related masterpieces.

The Four Elements Room 11



In room 11 of the National Gallery you can find the masterpieces of Joachim Beuckelaer (1533–574) another Flemish painting where many of his painting include pictures of food and markets. The National Gallery since 2004 managed to have in the same room the series of The Four elements where the fish stall means water, the  butchers  fire, the earth is represented by the vegetables and a poultry stall in the market means air.

Still Life with Drinking-Horn Room 22




Williem Kalf painted a collection of exotic and opulent object with a great brilliance and depth of colour. A lobster , a drinking horn, a half peeled lemon look so real that you feel that you can start to cook with  them at any moment.

The Effects of Intemperance Room 22




Jan Steen started to paint landscapes but soon started to paint controversial scenes of the middle class influenced by the merrymaking that he saw at that time.  I like this picture because it shows a believed strict society under the alcohol effect  like the snoozing  woman or the old man in the back misbehaving with a young lady. The weakness of the elderly  encourages the misbehaving of the children. A scene that many modern families are still contemplating.   In room 27 is another Jan Steen picture where an oyster is used like a symbol of lust

A Poulterer's Shop Room 27



Gerrit Dou painting is around 1670, he specialised in genre scenes of his time like this poultry shop painted in very deep details like we feel we are inside the shop. The scene makes you think of those moments when you are in the fresh market and the owner  is telling you how is the best way to cook the hare or where the precious hare came from.

A Lady in a Garden with Children Room 33





Nicolas Lancret painted  the main figures to one  side of the picture to show us an almost pastoral scheme of the French aristocrat class before The Revolution. Pay attention to the little girl sipping chocolate and abandoned her doll in favour to join to an afternoon tea, something that any child will do even today, just change the doll for a console game and the setting for an Ikea kitchen.

La Fontaine Room 33




Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was a Parisian  painter in the times of Louis XV, his paint works always reflect  simple domestic tasks with  very common household elements  that transport us to the times that a simple task like bringing water from the cistern wasn’t so easy like our days but painted with a  great pictorial harmony

Still Life with Lemons and Oranges Room 39




Still Life with Lemons and Oranges and Still Life with Oranges and Walnuts are two pictures of Luis Melendez recognized as one of the greatest European still-life painters. The Still Life series of Melendez show us the best product that Spain has been always to offer to the kitchens, painted with a precision that captures  all the texture of the fresh food and also of the oldtime kitchenware.


Still Life with Apples and a Pomegranate Room 41




Gustave Courbet (1819-77) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting that also had very clever quotes. Most of  the Still Life paintings were painted when  he was in prison, his sisters brought him fruit and flowers as subjects for his canvases. Many of these represent fruit  in landscape settings.

Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window Room 45



This picture is believed to be an act of homage to a painting which Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) had acquired earlier, Cézanne's 'Still Life with Compotier, Glass and Apples' (Museum of Modern Art, New York). Gaugin instead paints the bowl of fruit in full details using the colours for pure decorative and emotional purposes with non-naturalistic approach of painting with  very simplified brush touches. At the time  he painted the picture he was living in Haiti, but is believed that the background town is based  on a picture of Pont-Aven

The Arnolfini Portrait Room 56


Perhaps this famous Jan Van Eyck portrait is not exactly a foodie’s one, but Jan Van Eyck is one of my favourites, the portrait is about an Italian merchant living in Bruges holding the hand of his young pregnant bride. In the mirror beneath is probably the reflection of Van Eyck, but if you are a real foodie you will notice the perfect orange fruit detail painting by the window a rare and prized delicacy.



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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Ger!
    Me ha encantado este post, muy interesante, dá gusto conocer cosas nuevas, como algunos de estos cuadros ó la carrera de las tortitas del otro día, cada vez me gusta más este blog, gracias por regalar cultura, un beso!

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