ESNA Conference 2017 – Food, Glorious Food

Antwerp, MAS, 8 and 9 June 2017

Food, glorious food: Food at the heart of nineteenth-century art

Organized by ESNA (European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art) and MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) Antwerp, in conjunction with the exhibition ANTWERP À LA CARTE which looks at the intimate relationship between food and the city.

This symposium intends to study the various and complex relations between food, the experience of eating, and nineteenth-century art. Although food has always been a subject in the arts, the modes of production, distribution and consumption of nourishment changed radically during the course of the nineteenth century. Elaborate culinary experiences – which until then had been the prerogative of royalty and the aristocracy – became readily available for a much larger audience, who could dine in restaurants or feast upon descriptions of meals in culinary journals or columns in the popular press. Food decisively entered the public sphere and consciousness in cities where new sites of consumption in the form of mouth-watering food shops and restaurants emerged. At the same time food became a marker of national identity, of gender identity, of ‘taste’, of affluence, and of social and economic status.

Modern phenomena such as industrialization, liberalization of the market, urbanization, rise of the middle class, issues of nationality and gender, leisure time and economic upheaval affected the gastronomic field as well as the depiction of it in the visual arts. The term gastronomy in itself is a nineteenth-century invention, referring to the intellectual discourse about taste and consumption. Culinary literature contained contributions by the journalistic elite, including established art critics and caricaturists writing or illustrating for the burgeoning daily and weekly presses and producing a shared language around consumption. This new fascination for food was reflected in the entire panoply of the artistic field, ranging from recipes, food literature, decorative arts and interior design to works of art and art criticism.

For this conference, we aim to discuss how the development of the food industry and the changing notion of ‘taste’ and social mores are reflected in nineteenth-century art in the broadest sense.

Programme Thursday June 8

10.30                     Registration + Coffee & Tea
11.00 Welcome by Mayken Jonkman (RKD) and Leen Beyers (MAS)
11.10 Keynote Peter Scholliers | Professor and Head of the Department of History, Free University of Brussels
  “Food Visibility and Urban Identities”

Session 1            “Identity and Nationality” 

  Chair: Maite van Dijk | Van Gogh Museum
  Andrew Eschelbacher | Susan Donnell and Harry W. Konkel Assistant Curator of European Art, Portland Museum of Art
  “Restorative meals: Culinary pride and the rehabilitation of Paris (1872-1885)”
  Alexandra Grigorieva | Core Research Fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
  “Russian artists, Russian menus: Gastronomy as means of painting identities in nineteenth-century Russia”
  Ekaterini Kepetzis | Professor, Department of Art History, University of Cologne
  “‘… acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people’: Depictions of Thanksgiving in post-civil war American visual culture”
13.00 Lunch                   (incl. Poster Presentations)

Session 2            “Food and Gender”

  Chair: Marjan Sterckx | Ghent University
  Allison Deutsch | Teaching Fellow, University College London
  “‘Impressionist market gardener specializing in cabbages’: The cabbage as metaphor in Camille Pissarro’s critical reception”
  Frédérique Desbuissons | Maître de conférences en histoire de l’art moderne et contemporain, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne
  “Sweet images: Gender, color, and confection in nineteenth-century France”
  Heather Belnap Jensen | Associate Professor of Art History, Brigham Young University
  “Femininity, fertility, and the cult of Les glaces in post-revolutionary Paris”
15.45 "Antwerp a la carte: perceiving a city's past", Introduction to the exhibtion by Ilja Van Damme (UA) and Leen Beyers (MAS)
16.00                     Visit to the exhibition
17.00 Drinks
18.00 End
  Dinner with speakers and organizers

Programme Friday June 9

09.15 Morning Tea
09.30 Keynote Marni Kessler | Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Kress Foundation Department of Art History, University of Kansas
  “Mapping Oranges, Berries, Pears, and Grapes: Gustave Caillebotte’s Fruit Displayed on a Stand”

Session 3            “Professionalization and Mediatization”

  Chair: Allison Deutsch | University College London
  Emily Morgan | Assistant Professor of Art History, Iowa State University
  “Photography and the rise of a global trade in meat”
  Foteini Vlachou | Postdoctoral research fellow, Instituto de História Contemporânea, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  “Between consumption, advertising and high art: Portuguese still lifes of food at the end of the nineteenth century”
  Jean-Pierre Williot | Professor of contemporary history, University François Rabelais, Tours
  “Flames of gas, electricity: Advertising displays news firings in the late nineteenth century”
  Felix Bröcker | Trained chef and PhD fellow at the Offenbach Academy of Art and Design, Offenbach am Main
  “The Chef’s Image: Presentation and self-representation of chefs in the nineteent century”
11.40 Guus Thijssen | Gastronomic speaker
  “Chefs as artists - creativity in modern cuisines”
12.15 Lunch
13.45 Charlotte Rulkens | Junior Curator, Mauritshuis The Hague. "Slow Food: Still lifes of the Golden Age"

Session 4            “Agencies: Social and political connotations”

  Chair: Rachel Esner | University of Amsterdam
  Shana Klein | Post-doctoral Fellow in Global and Trans-regional History at the German Historical Institute and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  “Hungry eyes: The politics of taste in nineteenth-century American still-life painting”
  Lieske Tibbe | former assistant professor at Radboud University Nijmegen
  “Potato eaters, potato painters, and the taste of critics”
  Jeff Richmond-Moll | Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Art History, University of Delaware
  “Tongue-tied: Raphaelle Peale’s Still life with steak and the ecology of food”
15.20 Coffee break
15.50 Concluding remarks by Ilja Van Damme | Director of the Centre for Urban History, University of Antwerp             
  + Discussion
16.50 END
  Drinks at café (at own expense)

Tickets and information


8 and 9 June 2017


MAS, Antwerp




Regular: € 60 (both days) / € 40 (1 day)


Student: € 40 (both days) / € 25 (1 day)


Via our webshop