RKD Netherland Institute for art History
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.
Regular: € 60 (both days) / € 40 (1 day)
Student: € 40 (both days) / € 25 (1 day)
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