Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Food Related Painting of the Week

The Marriage at Cana
Gerard David
ca. 1500

The Marriage at Cana, Oil on wood, Musée du Louvre, Paris
(from the Web Gallery of Art)

A busy painting from the late medieval period, this one is unusual in that it has a lot of food detail for a religious-themed artwork (if you look at the paintings titled "The Last Supper", you'll find that nothing was being served other than bread).

The first thing that catches my eye in this one is (of course) the pie being brought in at the left. The perspective is a bit squashed, but this is a nice example of the geometrically perfect, cylindrical medieval pie - I'll post other paintings with such pies in the future. My gaze then travels across the table to the right, noting the bread, knife, and beaker-shaped glass just in the foreground of Jesus. Just right of center a server is carving a piece of meat. The resolution here isn't good enough to make out what's on the platter next to him. There's a nice salt cellar next to that.

Something else worth noting, in this painting the diners are seated all around the table instead of only along one side as is the case in most feast scenes. This makes me wonder if the seating arrangements in all the other paintings are wrong (set up so you could see all the figures), or if it's this one that doesn't represent how feasters sat, or perhaps even if both arrangements were common. Something I'll have to check into.

1 comment:

Elise Fleming said...

The seating arrangement could also be one of a number of possible variations. We modern folk use round tables, rectangular tables, tables with chairs and tables with benches. It might also be the type of meal that is being depicted. A high feast (royalty being present), might be depicted with a head/high table and long tables with diners on one side only. A family meal might be a table with people on all sides. The Cana wedding wasn't a high feast; it was a wedding celebration with family and friends, no royalty. Hence, a different table arrangement for diners.