The Arts of the Table


Date/time:
RECORDED sessions online – 60 minutes each (full details on acceptance of booking)
Venue:
online
Lecturer:
Nicole Mezey
Fees:
Full course (4 lectures) £120.00
Single lecture £35.00

Book your place now on The Art of the Table

“Fabulously insightful to the artists and their lives. Wonderfully articulated. Nicole gives Vasari a run for his money.”

At the heart of the home, rich or poor, is a fascination with food, and this shared experience is the perfect opportunity to flaunt wealth and status through elaborate artefacts, and to illustrate shifting fashions and styles of eating. Through the centuries, food and its rituals provided a means for artists to celebrate and understand their world. For the medieval and Christian world, bread and wine are the emblems of faith, in the 17th century, still‐life painting captures the prosperity of the age and in the 19th century the informality of cafes and bars illustrates the arrival of a new social and urban order.

Hendrick Goltzius, Helen of Troy, 1615
Dessert Spoon (France) c.1890 Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Autumn, 1573

Course outline

Lecture 1 Above the salt

The arrival of the fork, condemned as impious by the Church, the sumptuous salt cellars of the Renaissance, the impact of mass production, enabling Wedgwood and others to create fine tableware for a new market, all mark stages in the developing ritual and sophistication of the meal. We examine settings and trappings to explore the experience of dining over the centuries.

Lecture 2 Bread and Wine

In the symbolism of the Judeo‐Christian tradition, food has a central role. Starting with the fatal fruit of the Garden of Eden, and taking us through not only to the Last Supper but to the continuing rituals of Communion, food and hospitality also become measures for the core notions of the practice of a Christian life.

Lecture 3 Apple and Allegories

The Greeks and Romans developed strong narrative themes associating the magic or protection of individual gods and goddesses with elements of the Natural world and its provision. The greatest of all ancient myths, the war of Troy, is itself triggered by the infamous apple of discord. We look at images evoking fertility, abundance and decadence ‐ themes further developed in moral tales of Vice and the Senses.

Lecture 4 Let them eat cake!

This week we focus on cooking, eating and food itself, as the expression of social rituals and aspiration‐ celebration, seduction, births and escapes. Lavish still life is the opportunity for sophisticated studies of surface and texture, the fantastical 16th century images of Giuseppe Archimboldo turned Man quite literally into the food he ate, whereas, in the 1970’s, Judy Chicago explored contemporary feminism through the vehicle of a dinner party.