Budapest, Hungary. Art Museum.
Have you ever hesitated before walking into a museum, with some kind of reluctance at the prospect of spending an entire afternoon looking closely at dozens of paintings ? There is a way to circumvent this anguish when visiting these temples of the long bygone past : Look out for your passion there . Of course if your passion is about motorbikes or Rock & Roll, you may have a problem here , but what about wine ? It worked for me... I walked into the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts , bought a ticket and a photo permit , walked down to the basement to see the great Dürer exhibition (no pics allowed ) and then walked up to see the other collections, very rich collections indeed , with paintings from the italian, spanish, dutch schools and masters . I never used any flashlight of course , and will post only wine related details of the paintings .
On this still life above, two glasses of wine at each end of the painting . The one on the left is so bright-red, so light , as if water had been added to it , and the other one , a very different style of glass, with what seems to be white-amber (maybe sweet?) wine . I showed the pics to B. , she says the painters then did not necessarily mean anything like such wine goes with such cheese or such food , their first concern was the composition .
Actually the first painting where I spotted wine . This tiny little glass of wine was so discreet on the table in the context of the scene , that I nearly missed it . The artist who authored this painting comes from a very distant era . 150 years before the previous still life above , very different pictural techniques .
And people seemed to be so frugal at the time , look at this quite empty table, with a tiny glass with very little wine in it....
There was something strange, looking at this glass of wine on this painting , these odd-looking dishes on this quite empty table, this all seemed so distant from our modern way to relate to the world .
This is a surprising painting . There was this old tradition about giving strength and vigor to little children with wine . But here of course , wine has a sacred meaning . Wine has been sacred for many cultures , not only Christianity , just think to the zoroastrians, or to Osiris in ancient Egypt .
This could be a question to meditate for the heinous bigots who pretend to subjugate us infidels (and wine lovers) . Wine abstinence could partly explain their pathological behaviour...
The two details here show wine in the comfortable setting of an aristocatic family enjoying good food and (we suppose) good wine . This scene is much easier for us to imagine than the one that inspired the bare table with a tiny glass of wine above (but yet I am fascinated and puzzled by what perspires through this simple tablecloth and the underlying frugality) . More than 200 years between them, another universe...here We can relate with these people, with our own relation with wine . Look at the lady on the right : the wine has some effect on her , she seems to flush (asian flush?) , or is it because of what the man behind murmurs to her ?
This painting is surprising : These striking portraits on the edge of caricature were certainly schocking at the time , I guess : all these gluttons and drunkards avidly ingurgitating all kind of food with wine . Bones and rubbish scattered on the ground . The painting looks like an illustration of greed as opposed to the moral standard and moderation . Not the best image for a wine drinker too .
This servant pouring a trickle of red wine seems to come from the dark . She is partly in the shadow , and so is the jug . When I showed the painting to B. she said it was very intriguing : she saw some sort of resemblance with the Cards Players painting by Cezanne , in the composition , the gestures . She studied Art History and knows more than I do .
The whole scene seems to take place in the garden in front of a chateau . Columns and stairs on the right, rectangular basin and geometrical garden in the background , adults chatting and eating , children playing around the tables . Here also, the servant raises the jug up high where it trickles out in a long spurt , like it is done for tea in some parts of the world . Seems that was a common way to pour the wine . The servant looks unkempt , with wine stains
on his ( B. says it seems to be a boy) collar . Note that he holds the glass delicately like an authentic modern winetaster ...
Sitting at a table, a lady drinks some of this same red wine . Glasses are big and filled to the top .
In this painting , lobsters, fruits , grape clusters, a knocked-over pewter wine goblet and a container that looks like a beer tankard (also knocked-over), a couple of carafes in (cold?) water . You can see the reflection of a small panes window on the carafes . The carafe on the left is made of a darker glass , and must contain a very different type of wine , maybe sweet white wine . Looks like someone had a feast here .
The red wine here is so light , so translucent , could be because at the time it was common to add water in wine ( it was even a common practice in France in the first halh of the 20th century) .
On the table, a full glass of red wine with apple peelings and a few oysters .