Edibles (and Inedibles) in Art

Edibles (and Inedibles) in Art
The diversity of food represented in art is vast. While used in still life or realism, it may have a hidden meaning. I will share my findings.

Since the Hebrew Bible is considered to precede Greek civilization, I will mention Genesis 3:6, when Eve "took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband and he ate."

Albrecht Durer's "Adam and Eve" in two (2) panels, is from 1507 and can be seen at the Prado Museum, Spain.

From ancient Greece, quince was a popular fruit. In Greek mythology, it was a symbol of the goddess Aphrodite. Some biblical scholars believe the "forbidden fruit" in the Garden of Eve may have been a quince, not the apple.

Another story from Greek mythology is from the Trojan War. The god Zeus ordered Paris (Trojan prince) to give an apple to the most beautiful goddess. Ta-da, enter Helen, who was abducted by Paris and brought to Troy.

This event, known as "The Judgment of Paris," was a common theme for artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Auguste Renoir.

Depending on one's particular diet, if meat was avoided, paintings of beef would be particularly repulsive.

"Slaughtered Ox" (1655) by Dutch artist Rembrandt is considered a metaphor for death. It can be seen at the Louvre, Paris.

French artist Chaim Soutine painted his interpretation of beef numerous times. His "Le Boeuf" (1923) sold at Christie's in 2015 for US $28 M.

Soutine also painted "Carcass of Beef" (1925) and "Half-side of Beef" (1922-1923).

Francis Bacon’s painting "Figure with Meat" (1954) was based on Diego Velazquez's "Portrait of Pope Innocent X" (1650) and shows the pope flanked by two (2) sides of beef.

French landscape artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot favored pastoral scenes with cows.

His "Cows in Marshy Landscape" (1871) can be seen at the National Gallery, London. Another, "Moring: Landscape with Two Cows and a Figure" (1855-1860) is from the V&A Museum, London.

Fish has been the sustenance for people since the time of Jesus. In Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" (1494-1498) the fish is believed to be grilled eel. Fish can symbolize Christ.

Italian Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted "Water" (1563-1564), a female portrait made of sea creatures.

Dutch artist Pieter Claesz's "Still Life" (1643) from the Minneapolis Museum of Art Collection has been described as a "banquet piece" with its elaborate decorum and extravagant food.

One of the first paintings by Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio was "Boy with a Basket" (1593). Analyzed by a horticulturist, the painting represents both healthy and decaying fruit.

Thought to be a self-portrait, "Young Sick Bacchus" (1593-1594) shows the Roman god of wine holding grapes.

Italian visual artist Maurizio Cattelan shocked the art world with "Comedian" (2019), a banana duct-taped to a wall. Three (3) editions were sold at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2019, starting at $120,000.

Trained in product design, Mexican artist Fernando Laposse draws attention to the avocado trade by incorporating avocado waste material with a bit of marigold for his tapestry "Conflict Avocados," an installation at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.