Enfilade

Exhibition | Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 28, 2019

Boar’s Head Tureen, France, probably Strasbourg, ca. 1745; tin-glazed earthenware (faïence)
(Toronto: Gardiner Museum, anonymous loan; photo by Toni Hafkenscheid)

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Opening next month at the Gardiner Museum:

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
Gardiner Museum, Toronto, 17 October 2019 — 19 January 2020
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, 29 February — 24 May 2020

Curated by Meredith Chilton

Food and dining were transformed in Europe during the age of Enlightenment by profound changes that still resonate today. What many of us eat, the way food is cooked, and how we dine continues to be influenced by radical changes that occurred in France from 1650 until the French Revolution in 1789.

Philippe Mercier, The Sense of Taste, 1744–47, oil on canvas, 132 × 154 cm (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1974.3.18).

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment explores the story of this transformation with rare objects, fascinating histories, and amusing stories. We start in the kitchen gardens at Versailles where advances in horticulture expanded the growing seasons of vegetables and fruits, making a greater selection of foods available year-round. Then we visit the steamy kitchens of cooks who advocated light, flavourful cuisine centuries before our time. Next, we discover surprisingly modern philosophies for healthy eating and vegetarianism, and join ardent foodies as they savour meals served on newly invented ceramic and silver wares, from sauceboats to tureens. Along the way, we explore how social changes were impacting eating then, just as now, as the grand formality of the past was abandoned in favour of informality and intimacy.

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment is organized by the Gardiner Museum and curated by Meredith Chilton, C.M., Curator Emerita. Works of art and objects from major North American museums and private collections, as well as key pieces of contemporary ceramics and knitted art, will come together in a delectable feast for the senses designed by Opera Atelier’s Resident Set Designer, Gerard Gauci.

After the Gardiner Museum, the exhibition will tour to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. The exhibition is accompanied by a cookbook titled The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment by Meredith Chilton, with contributions by Markus Bestig, Executive Chef, The York Club, Toronto.

Children Shelling Peas, England, Chelsea, ca. 1759–70; soft-paste porcelain, enamels, and gilding
(Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

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Meredith Chilton, The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and Their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt, 2019), 144 pages, ISBN: 978-3897905603, $50.

Food and dining were transformed in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, and these profound changes continue to resonate today. What many of us now eat, the way our food is prepared and how we dine are the result of radical changes that occurred in France from 1650 until the French Revolution in 1789. Over thirty French and English recipes of the period are presented in this cookbook, offering readers a taste of the past. Amusing stories, culinary insights, and snippets of history outline the cultural milieu of the time. The King’s Peas is richly illustrated with pictures of paintings, books, silver, glass and ceramics to stimulate the imagination—and the appetite. You are cordially invited to take part in this delectable historical feast.