Women Who Eat Too Much — In Art

By Friday, March 6, 2015 Permalink 1

by Elatia Harris

Can minor masters be too cruel? Let’s take a look at that.

For even apparent cruelty, in painting, can be far less, far greater, and far different than it appears. A recent conversation about the small differences between gluttony and gourmandise made me want to find out if painting itself offered some answers.

 

Boris Kustodiev, The Merchants Wife, 1898

Boris Kustodiev, The Merchants’ Wife, 1898

The Glutton, by Ludwig Knaus, 1897

The Glutton, by Ludwig Knaus, 1897

 

Boris Kustodiev was a Russian artist and set designer who died in the 1920s. He confessed to being dedicated to expressing cheerfulness and love of life in his painting. His childhood was one of terrible hardship. His widowed mother rented tiny quarters for the family in a rich merchant’s home. Ever after, he would figure forth the bounty of that way of life, that he amply observed, but could not touch. “It was right under my nose,” he would say. “Like something out of an Ostrovsky play.”

The merchant’s wife, above, lacks for nothing, certainly not for the excess flesh that was then a sign of class, wealth and health. Is there satire in his depiction of the merchant’s wife? Sleek as an otter, idle as a carp in a Medici pond, she is surely being sent up by the artist, we might think. But click the image to enlarge it, and look at her face. She appears intelligent and discerning, as if she were truly tasting her tea. She is one of many such women in his body of work, living the good life among radiant colors and exquisite foods. Maxim Gorky had a great fondness for this type of work by Kustodiev, and Ilya Repin, a Tolstoyan figure among Russian painters, was his early mentor. Russians who love his work and know his life story, which ended in years of illness and disability, sense only a mood of radiant optimism in his themes and their treatment.

Ludwig Knaus was one of the best loved, best paid, busiest, and finally, most decorated artists in 19th century Germany. As a portrait artist, he was spoken of in the same breath as Lenbach and Winterhalter.  As a genre painter, all Europe knew him through engravings of his rural scenes. He died famous, in 1910. In our own era, he’s a case study of an artist whose message need not be heard.

The glutton, above, has a nicer title in German — Die Naschkatze, or, The Sweet Tooth. The very slender brunette of middle years is caught out enjoying a sweet from a paper cone, and not very decorously. One leg is thrown over the other, her mouth is full, and she’s in a condition of undress. Does the painter mean us to find this charming? The woman is pretty, and she’s enjoying herself, after all. But, we like her better than he does — don’t you think?

In 1878, Knaus participated in an important Paris expo with a painting with an unambiguously anti-Semitic theme, not his first. This is another. It’s in a private collection. I wish I knew whose. Suddenly, in this image of a perhaps hungry woman greedily sneaking sweets, there is cruelty too deep, lasting and harmful for words.

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Elatia Harris is a writer and consulting editor in Cambridge, Mass. She is most often at work on books and articles about food, wine, and travel. Contact her at elatiaharrisATgmailDOTcom or via text at 617-599-7159.

 

 

 

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The Story of Edouard Manet and the Bunch of Asparagus

By Sunday, June 1, 2014 Permalink 1

The art patron Charles Ephrussi (1849 –1905), one of the Parisians on whom Proust based the character Swann, was deeply appreciative of contemporary painting, and agreed to buy from Edouard Manet the delightful still-life, topmost above, for 800 francs. So great was his pleasure in ownership, however, that he paid the artist 1000 francs for it.

Not one to miss the chance for a witty flourish, Manet swiftly sent Ephrussi a smaller painting, of a single asparagus, with a note to say that one had slipped from the bunch.

 

 

Both paintings may be viewed by the public, but not together. The mother painting is in the Walraff Museum in Cologne, the solitary asparagus in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.

Top: Édouard Manet (French, 1832-1883). Bunch of Asparagus, 1880. Oil on canvas. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne, Germany
Bottom: Edouard Manet (French, 1832-1905) One Asparagus, 1880. Oil on canvas, the Musee D’Orsay, Paris, France
 
Elatia Harris is a writer and consulting editor in Cambridge, Mass. She is most often at work on books and articles about food, wine and travel. Contact her at elatiaharrisATgmailDOTcom or via text at 617-599-7159.
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Food Art: Lute and Fruit, by Henri Matisse

By Friday, February 14, 2014 Permalink 0

Food Art: Lute and Fruit, by Henri Matisse

Lute and Fruit, painting by Henri Matisse

 

 

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Food Art: Medieval Feast, by Ensiferrum

By Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Permalink 0

MedievalFeast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Duke’s Feast, by .

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Food Art: Herbed Lamb and Lentil Salad, food photography by Meeta Khurana Wolff

By Monday, September 16, 2013 Permalink 0
Food Art: Herbed Lamb and Lentil Salad, food photography by Meeta Khurana Wolff

Food Art: Herbed Lamb and Lentil Salad, food photography by Meeta Khurana Wolff

See more food photo compositions at Meeta K. Wolff or in our Food Art category. She also runs the popular blog What’s for Lunch, Honey?

Bio of Meeta Khurana Wolff

Meeta, that’s my name given to me by my dad. I was born back in the summer of 1972, one beautiful day in Bombay, India. I was practically delivered in a hotel. That’s where my father has worked for most of his life and it’s what injected the hotelier’s blood into my veins. This hotel lifestyle enabled me to travel the world, get close to many cultures, learn a few languages, and experience many great adventures.

Knowing only a hotel life, I decided to follow my dad’s footsteps and studied Hotel Management, specializing in Marketing and Guest Relations. I trained in one of the finest luxury hotels of this world in Doha, Qatar. That is when a tiny spark for food was ignited in my soul.

I now have settled down in Germany, with the two men I adore, Tom, my loving partner for almost 10 years, and Soeren my adorable son of 5 6 7 years.

Hotels are not a part of my life in Germany. After graduating I came to Germany and worked in an advertising firm, an architecture and design firm and a couple of software firms. Don’t ask how that came about – it just happened. Glad it did too because along this path I bumped into and fell in love with Tom.

We are now in Weimar and you’ll laugh when I tell you this my traveling feet have begun to itch again! Let’s see where life takes us.

I love photography, always have, but it was with the start of this blog that I discovered the world of Foodography. Since then the passion for photography I developed has taken a complete new angle and opened so many exciting doors. I try to capture shots that speak a thousand words, that makes one feel as if they were a part of the scene and experience the photo with their senses. You tell me if I am succeeding!

You can see more of Meeta’s work at What’s For Lunch Honey.

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Food Art: Fruity Cakes, by Meeta Khurana Wolff

By Monday, September 2, 2013 Permalink 0


 

 

Food Art: Fruity Cakes, food photography by Meeta Khurana Wolff

See more food photo compositions at Meeta K. Wolff.

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Food Art: Still Life with Pears, Apricots and Grapes III

By Monday, August 26, 2013 Permalink 0


Food Art: Still Life with Pears, Apricots and Grapes III, a Painting by Mia Brownell

Still Life with Pears, Apricots and Grapes III, by Mia Brownell, http://www.miabrownell.com/

Still Life with Pears, Apricots
and Grapes III, by Mia Brownell.

 

Mia Brownell, Still Life with Pears, Apricots and Grapes III, 2006, Giclée print, courtesy of the artist, New Rochelle, New York. See more at Art State.

 

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Food Art: Green Bean Salad, food photography by Brian Samuels

By Thursday, August 22, 2013 Permalink 0


 

 

 

Food Art: Green Bean Salad, food photography by Brian Samuels

Brian is a Boston-based food photographer and writer. He is the creator of the food blog A Thought For Food, a collection of recipes, personal anecdotes and historical information pertaining to cooking.

His photographs are available for viewing on his photography site, Brian Samuels Photography. Brian’s work has also been featured on Saveur , The Kitchn , Tastespotting, and FoodGawker.

 

 

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Food Art: Candy-rimmed glasses, food photography by SandeeA

By Saturday, August 3, 2013 Permalink 0


 

 

 

 

Sandeea is our latest food photography discovery. A woman of many talents, she is also author of the Food Play column. She writes in both English and Spanish. She develops playful recipes, and is an excellent food stylist and photographer. She runs the site La Receta de la Felicitad. She writes in Spanish and English.

 

 

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Food Art: Fig, Prosciutto & Gorgonzola Crostata, food photography by Meeta Khurana Wolff

By Wednesday, July 24, 2013 Permalink 0

See more food photo compositions at Meeta K. Wolff in our Food Art category.

Meeta K. Wolff’s Bio

Meeta Khurana Wolff is a freelance food photographer, stylist and writer, currently living in the culturally rich city of Weimar in Germany with her German husband and their 8-year-old son, where she enjoys preparing multicultural, home-cooked meals using fresh organic ingredients. When she is not styling, photographing or writing about food, Meeta loves to travel the world, exploring new cultures and capturing it all on camera. The unique mood that Meeta creates in her food photography is also found in her travel, still life and landscape photography.

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