From cavemen to pop art, food has long been a focus in artwork . The new book Food from the Louvre, highlights the gastronomic works in its collection.
Food has been center stage in artwork for centuries, originating with cavemen drawings of hunting scenes and bison. The still life medium emphasizes food, and dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout time, platters of bright round fruit, bowls of soured tomatoes, and spreads of cheese, wine, and meats have splashed across canvases. Fast forward to the 1960s and the modern art movement’s fascination with Campbell soup cans and Wayne Thiebaud’s cake paintings. Through every medium, photography, sculpture, painting and the like, food has been a concurrent theme.
M.F.K Fisher, in her tome The Art of Eating puts food forward as the art. “Cooking is an art, but you eat it too,” cookbook author Marcella Hazan once said. From France’s detailed Michel Bras to Chicago’s own Grant Atchaz, chefs all over the world create elaborate artwork on the plate, artwork gone as quickly as it is consumed.
The January release of the book Food in the Louvre is a combination of culinary artwork and recipes. With a forward from Michelin-starred chef Paul Bocuse and commentary from the museum’s head chef, Yves Pinard, the book serves as a tour of the legendary museum’s still life’s and gastronomic artwork feasts.
The narrative spans 40 of the Lourve’s works, from ancient Greek and Egyptian tomb carvings through the oil paintings of the mid 1800s. Along with commentary on the artwork, Pinard provides recipes to accompany many of the pieces. Alongside Eugene Delacroix’s Still Life with Lobsters(pictured below), the book offers directions for lobster thermidor and pheasant salami. A recipe for Fig and Pain Dore, a fig and bread pudding style treat, accompanies Luis Eugenio Meléndez’s Still Life with Figs, an 18th Century print of green figs and bread.
You may not be able to afford a tip to Paris for a stroll through the hallways of the Louvre and have lunch along the Seine, but an afternoon spent reading Food in the Louvre is almost as good.