food in the arts


CARRACCI, Annibale/ ARTISTS BEFORE 1650/ ART MAIN                                                                                         home 
(b. 1560, Bologna, d. 1609, Roma)   film and food  

Carracci. Family of Bolognese painters, the brothers Agostino (1557-1602) and Annibale (1560-1609) and their cousin Lodovico (1555-1619), who were prominent figures at the end of the 16th century in the movement against the prevailing Mannerist artificiality of Italian painting.

They worked together early in their careers, and it is not easy to distinguish their shares in, for example, the cycle of frescos in the Palazzo Fava in Bologna (c.1583-84). In the early 1580s they opened a private teaching academy, which soon became a centre for progressive art. It was originally called the Accademia dei Desiderosi (‘Desiderosi’ meaning ‘desirous of fame and learning’), but later changed its name to Academia degli Incamminati (Academy of the Progressives). In their teaching they laid special emphasis on drawing from the life (all three were outstanding graphic artists) and clear draughtsmanship became a quality particularly associated with artists of the Bolognese School, notably Domenichino and Reni, two of the leading members of the following generation who trained with the Carracci.

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Butcher's Shop     Hunger as Divine: Dante’s Divine Comedy
Annibale Carracci, the Farnese Palace, Rome: The Farnese Palace, Rome (Great Fresco Cycles of the Renaissance)  

Butcher’s Shop

Oil on canvas, 185 x 266 cm
Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford


Food on the Floor: Edible Imagery in Roman Dining Room Floor Mosaics

Using the language of the Bible, theologians have referred to the dangers of the consumer habits which emanate from such abundant supply of products as ‘temptations of the flesh,’ and these are quite often the theme of rather graphic paintings of butchers’ shops. Like Aertsen and Beuckelaer’s art, in the 16th century they are not yet pure still-lifes, although they do display the tendency towards materialization inherent in this genre.

In Annibale Carracci’s painting with this motif, the characters are facing the viewer as if they were on stage. On the right a butcher’s servant is dragging along a freshly cut ox or cow, the spine and innards visible as in an anatomical longitudinal section, which he is about to hang on a hook. Another servant is kneeling beside a sheep that is lying on the ground, its legs tied, which he is about to slaughter. A third servant is holding a pair of scales, adjusting its weights. In the background, a butcher is taking a hook off the ceiling. Goods are exhibited in front of him, and an old woman is seen stealing a piece of meat without being noticed by the butcher. On the left a rather foolish-looking man, dressed in a dandy-like manner with a feathered hat, tattered, baggy yellow trousers and a huge codpiece, can be seen rummaging awkwardly in his purse. The actions of the characters show that the painting is a thematic representation of a literary motif from a picaresque tale.

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From Raphael to Carracci: The Art of Papal Romeamazon usa  

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before 1595
Oil on canvas, 136 x 253 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
This painting and its companion piece, The Hunting was executed by Carracci in his period in Bologna. At this time he was extremely interested in landscape, and his experiments are a foreshadowing of Poussin’s classical compositions; but in these pictures he is exploring in a different direction, in the tradition of Bassani, whose studios continued to turn out landscapes which were prized all over Europe. This painting and its companion piece, The Hunting was executed by Carracci in his period in Bologna.     
The Beaneater - Carracci    

The Beaneater

Oil on canvas, 57 x 68 cm
Galleria Colonna, Rome