Taming the Emotions While Filling the Belly

With the coming of the holidays we think, perhaps, more of eating than we do of browsing art.  These days of pies, cakes, and puddings recall any number of Dutch still lifes from their Golden age. But it is Abraham van Beyeren’s  Banquet Still Life where I most want to be. I can smell the warmth and feel the heat of the steamed food. The citrus peels sting the nose. I can taste the wine on my lips. The translucent grapes are the best examples I’ve ever seen for the study of how to paint water droplets. The senses blur as I imagine the smooth, cool grape skin on my tongue. 

Abraham van Beyeren, Banquet Still Life, 1667, gift of the Ahmanson Foundation

Thanksgiving definitely makes us hunger for normal sustenance, but people’s introspective behavior at this time of year also makes our minds flip toward other nourishments. It becomes mawkishly routine, this strange fall slump. We might get the idea lodged in our brain that hope and well wishes become the only necessary commodity of exchange. The simple machinations going on throughout our bodies blur from focus. Potassium keeps the heart beating. What is it that happens when we drink that warm cup of black coffee? We are too busy focusing on what is external, what is behind us, or what is ahead. Food brings us back to the moment. If your Thursday night dinner table doesn’t bring that home for you, perhaps seeing Beyeren’s still life in the gallery might. 

Laura Cherry, Collections Management Intern

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