One does not need to be an expert on art in all its forms to understand and accept that art influences and is a reflection of any society. In fact it seems to me that art is like a “storage facility” or a culture’s collective memory through time, enabling us to look back at paintings, sculpture, music and literature from which we can understand different cultures or different eras of our own society.
Certainly in my own case I have learned so much from recent wine travels by visiting not only vineyards but spending time in local or related galleries and museums, including the Prado in Madrid, the Capitoline Museum in Rome, the MOMA in New York, the Denver Art Museum, Museo Ralli in Marbella, The Louvre in Paris …… with many having “specialisms” relating to a particular era or culture such as the Roman Empire at the Capitoline or the Native American Indian at Denver. Then you will find different styles of painting related to places and eras ….. Renaissance from the 14th Century in Europe, Baroque and Neoclassicism from the 17th Century, Romanticism across the 18th and 19th Centuries with Realism, Impressionism and Symbolism. The modern age has given us a plethora of styles too ……. expressionism, cubism, surrealism, abstract, pop art …… the mind boggles!
In many cases, wine as a drink and a concept has been “exhibited” as subject matter or content within a style or a specific piece of art. Here are a few examples you may be familiar with:
The boating party is, to my untrained eye, a happy occasion with friends meeting in pleasant surroundings taking lunch together in which wine is a part. The painting of Dionysus/Bacchus by Caravaggio is one of his early works and shows Bacchus in a different “mode” than similar works where he is often depicted as vengeful and dynamic. Here Bacchus is young, calm, thoughtful even, which may have been how the person commissioning Caravaggio wanted it done. Click either of the painting titles for interesting analyses of each one.
Now here are some earlier works of art from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras discovered in tombs, on house frescoes, painted pottery and bronze decanters with each one featuring wine:
Once again just click on the link under each image to discover more detail about how the painting or piece of pottery was part of wine related culture. Here’s more from the modern era:
From these few paintings and pieces of sculpture we can clearly see how culture has affected the “art of the day”. From the ancient Egyptians, through medieval Europe and to modern day, the style and content of paintings as frescoes, on canvas or on pottery has mirrored society and what that society saw as important. Values and beliefs are perhaps the strongest components of culture, but these components are shown to us through art ….. the decoration within Egyptian tombs, the fresco paintings on the walls of a Pompeii “wine bar”, the canvas commissioned by a wealthy Italian merchant, the paintings of modern artists earning a living by creating symbolic works for a particular market to earn a living. Wine has been a subject and a concept in all of these.
However, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, art also comprises literature and music, and it is literature that I will review in the next post in my Culture & Wine series. Here’s a “taste” ….. a courageous tasting note on Sherry!
The second property of your excellent sherris is the warming of the blood, which before, cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice; but the sherris warms it, and makes it course from the inwards to the parts’ extremes.Falstaff, Henry IV Part 2, William Shakespeare