Both wine and art are integral parts of the history of the world. As a result, art and wine have often crossed paths throughout the centuries. There are Egyptian frescoes referring to the grape harvests. Artists have also created mosaics dedicated to Dionysian, Baroque, Impressionist or Cubist paintings … Wine truly serves as inspiration in every era and style.
Below we’ll show you some examples of great works of art in which wine plays a part. Do you know them?
The Wedding Feast at Cana – Paolo Veronese
“The Wedding Feast at Cana” is a colossal work by the painter Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). It measures an impressive 6.77 m x 9.94 m. The painting dates to 1562, when Veronese was commissioned to decorate the refectory of the Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.
The painting represents the famous biblical episode of the wedding at Cana, during which Jesus transformed water into wine. If you want to admire the painting in its full glory, you must go to the Louvre in Paris. Napoleon brought it here in 1797.
Bacchus – Caravaggio
Caravaggio (1571-1610) painted the portrait of the god Bacchus between 1596 and 1598. The protagonist is represented according to traditional iconography: naked, with a crown of vine leaves on his head and a glass of red wine in his hand, which he seems to be offering to the viewer.
Experts believe that Caravaggio used a mirror and his own reflected image to study the position of his hand. It is for this reason that Bacchus holds the glass with his left hand.
You can enjoy this painting at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Meeting of Drinkers – Bartolomeo Manfredi
Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622) represented a style similar to Caravaggio’s style. In his painting “Meeting of Drinkers”, the figures emerge from a dark background, violently illuminated by a light that comes from above. It is a painting that gives a feeling of suspense and restlessness, well represented by the overcrowded position and the expressions of the characters.
The painting, dating from 1621, is now located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Luncheon of the Boating Party – Renoir
The famous “Le déjeuner des canotiers” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) dates to 1881. Today you can find it preserved in the Phillips Collection in Washington.
The painting features the terrace of the Fournaise restaurant on the island of Chatou. The Parisian rowers who loved to practice their sport along the Seine often also frequented this fine establishment. It is a festive and joyful scene that shows 14 people gathered around the same table to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.
It is a painting with bright and soft tones, which gives the viewer a feeling of lightness.
The Night Café – Vincent Van Gogh
Blinding, loud, anguished. “The Night Café” (1888) by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is an attempt to represent the human degeneration that occurs in bars at night.
In the late-night establishments, the most dreadful human passions come to light aided by alcohol. According to the painter, the most suitable colours to represent restlessness and despair are red and green. These colours are plentiful in the painting.
If you are curious to see the original painting, you will find it in the Art Gallery of Yale University.
The Day After – Edvard Munch
Wine is a source of great joy … But do not exaggerate! The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) wanted to represent the drama of the hangover in the painting “The Day After” (1895). The title already says everything you need to know.
The main protagonist is represented on the bed, in a less than elegant position. In the foreground, you can see the bottles and glasses which were abandoned there the night before. It is a sad scene, which represents the physical consequences and loneliness caused by the abuse of alcohol.
You can admire the painting up close in Nasjonalgalleriet in Oslo.
Two Women Sitting at a Bar – Pablo Picasso
The painting dates to the blue period of the painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). As the name suggests, “Two women sitting in a bar” (1902) – also called “Two prostitutes sitting in a bar” – represents two girls dressed in blue sitting at the counter of a cafe. The girls, however, do not seem to enjoy themselves.
The slouching shoulders and the lowered faces imbue a feeling of sadness and boredom, a sensation highlighted even more by the cold and muted tones of the painting. The provocative clothes seem to suggest the profession of the two, who wait in the bar for the next customer.
The painting is on display at the Hiroshima Art Museum, Japan.
The next time you walk through the doors of a museum, focus your eyes and try to find as many glasses as possible in the paintings on the walls.
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