After Watteau: Nicolas Lancret and the creation of the hunt luncheon
Dining is inarguably one of the oldest, most prevalent and pervasive acts of social interaction. In the modern age the ability to display one’s taste or refinement with regard to fashionable or trendy food items has become immediate due to social media. Instagram is filled with pictures of food: from farmers’ markets to prepared meals to selfies holding food. The foodstuff that people show themselves eating or getting ready to eat are indicators of their social identities and how they would like to be perceived by others. These food items also carry connotations ranging from rustic to luxurious or processed versus fresh, i.e. fried chicken compared to caviar or canned tuna in contrast to wild caught salmon. However, in our current culinary climate even the lowest of foods have been redeemed and made fashionable again – think Spam fried rice. Paintings of food during the eighteenth century can be viewed in a comparable way. The items depicted by the artist(s) have certain social connotations and long-standing iconographic affiliations. The paintings of food both reflect how the patron or subject of the painting wanted to be interpreted or perceived and blur the lines between popular and court culture.