ArtHistory Spring 2019


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Food has played an important role in the history of art. From creating still lifes of food as a convenient means of artistic study, to metaphors for philosophical and religious ideas, to contemporaneous documentation of social and cultural innovations, artists have been consumed by food (and, of course, vice versa). A Visual Feast is a special three-week series of art history lectures, co-presented by the Triton’s own Deputy Director, Preston Metcalf and former chef, Kay Korbel-Metcalf. Kay received her chef’s training in Umbria, Italy, and is well-versed in the history of gastronomy. Together, they will present three periods in art history, and show how the portrayal of particular foods played an important role in the art and lives of the time. Each lecture will culminate in a sampling of authentic foods prepared by Kay, from the periods discussed.

Thursdays, February 21 – March 7

All lectures will be at the Triton Museum of Art, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Fee: $60 TMA member, $70 nonmember

*For single sessions/drop-ins: $22 TMA member, $25 nonmember

*Due to the preparation for these lectures, space is limited. Please register and prepay by the Monday before each class (on Thursday) to secure your spot!


Week 1 – February 21

Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization

6,000 years ago the earliest civilizations were being formed. The earliest of these, in ancient Sumer, gave us many of the important cultural and social innovations we cherish today, including writing, mathematics, early sciences, mercantilism, exquisite art, and, perhaps most importantly, the invention of beer, bread, and cheese! The art of ancient Mesopotamia tells the story of this rise to civilization and the creation and importance of these and other foods. In this lecture we will explore the art of the era, followed by a presentation and sampling of authentic ancient Mesopotamian foods, including barley beer, Sumerian flat bread, and cheese.


Week 2 – February 28

Food of the Gods

Q: When is a still life not just a still life? A: When it’s a metaphor. Art of the Reformation and subsequent Counter-Reformation eras are resplendent with still lifes of flowers, memento mori and, of course, food. But these were not just any representations of food. These paintings carried a deeper meaning that conveyed religious messages in lieu of the more ostentatious portrayals of deities, sinners, and saints of the earlier Renaissance. In this lecture we will explore the paintings and the meanings of the various foods portrayed. Following the lecture we will enjoy a small sampling of some of the delicious metaphors we have seen. Moral guidance never tasted so good!


Week 3 – March 7

Monet''s Table

We remember him today as one of the pioneers of Impressionism, who spent the last 40 years of his long life at Giverny, painting and repainting the gardens and spectacular waterlilies for which he is so well known. But did you know that Monet was also a noted gourmand, who even wrote a cookbook of his favorite dishes? In this lecture we will explore Monet’s passion for food, in painting and on his table. Please join us for this Impressionistic view of the artist’s passion for food, and sample a few of his favorite dishes. Bon appetit!

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