Drinks throughout art history

From allegory to advertising, artists have frequently depicted the pleasures and pitfalls of drink in their work, writes Olivia Bodle.

the-absinthe-drinker-portrait-of-angel-fernandez-de-soto-1It’s found in the hollow-eyed stare of Picasso’s Absinthe Drinker (above) depicting Bohemian ennui, Nicloas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan (below right) and its orgiastic Bacchic excess or Manet’s more measured but slightly ominous Bar at the Folies-Bergère (bottom), with its sad, expectant bar girl waiting to take another order.

Those three works might be described as a warning concerning the evils of drink – or at least its excesses but others have portrayed alcohol in rather more Nicolas_Poussin_-_The_Triumph_of_Pan_-_WGA18298pleasurable light.

These include the sun-drenched world of Champagne or pastis advertising or the more libertine connotations of the absinthe fairy – where these stand in regard to today’s alcohol advertising restrictions is open to question.

The still life paintings of the old masters, which often included a bottle of wine, among the fruit, flowers, fish and game, have also been mimicked recently by photographer Colin Hampden-White.

The first of his photographs that are meant to capture the flavours and aromas of noble grape varieties were featured recently on the drinks business‘ website.

If you know of any other famous paintings connected to wine, beer and spirits or perhaps have a favourite art deco or pop art advert connected to drinks, tell us.

Drinking it in ... Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)

One Response to “Drinks throughout art history”

  1. john szabo says:

    See Jean François de Troy’s 1735 paiting Le Déjeuner d’Huîtres, a serious oyster and champagne party. This could well be the first paiting that depicts champagne as we know it today – sparkling. Look closely at the four aristocrats looking up at the popped champagne cork in the middle of the painting.

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