Food at the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

Nature Morte aux Oignons

Musée d’Orsay

I’m back. What a weird and wonderful world. You wake up one morning to an Edinburgh breakfast of beans, taters, tomato and mushrooms. You catch a train to London, then a plane to Hong Kong, then another to Bangkok. And next thing you know, you’re eating snail curry in a sweaty little street shop amid the battle cries and ballyhoo. We do live in interesting times. But I’m still thinking about lands far away, and it’s time to start filling you in.

So then, shall we begin this tour with a little art? The Louvre, of course, is massive. Our good friend Val says a person could wander for a week through the Louvre and never see it all. She’s absolutely right. I was intrigued and delighted to find so much food at the Louvre and its neighbor, the Musée d’Orsay. From garden-fresh vegetables to spirited, drunken evenings; from field to butcher to plate—the early artists paid due attention to human sustenance and the joy of eating. History is painted across the dinner table. Take a look.*

Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667)

La Peleuse de Pommes

Musée du Louvre

Abraham Mignon (1640-1679)

Le Nid de Pinsons

Musée du Louvre

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Le Dejeuner

Musée d’Orsay

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

La Boeuf Écorché

Musée du Louvre

Gérard Dou (1613-1675)

La Cuisinière Hollandaise

Musée du Louvre

Claude Monet

Nature Morte, The Joint of Meat

Musée d’Orsay

Edouard Manet (1832-1883)

La Serveuse de Bocks

Musée d’Orsay

Fritz von Uhde (1848-1911)

Le Christ Chez les Paysans

Musée d’Orsay

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1530-1593)


Musée du Louvre

Giuseppe Arcimboldo


Musée du Louvre

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)

Fleurs et Fruits

Musée d’Orsay

Jan Steen (1626-1679)

Repas de Famille

Musée du Louvre

(notice strategic placement of male hand on female breast)

Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875)

Des Glaneuses

Musée d’Orsay

Willem van Mieris (1662-1747)

La Cuisinière

Musée du Louvre

*A word on the photography above: Unlike many museums, these two Paris gems allow visitors to photograph the art. Ironic, considering France no longer allows street photography of people—the law, no doubt, would horrify Henri Cartier-Bresson, were he alive today. In France, it is illegal to publish a picture of a person in public without his or her written permission. The law has all but killed day-to-day news photography in France.

7 thoughts on “Food at the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay

  1. I just came across your blog this morning and as a fellow traveler and foodie, I was thrilled to find you. I look forward to following your travels and reading about all your food adventures. I am truly a “No Reservations” traveler.

    I am an amateur photography and have recently created a blog of my own. and my website will be live at the end of the month. A work in progress. Please feel free to visit both.

    Safe travels….Thomas

  2. The adventure continues. Now, did you look for Mary Magdalene underneath I.M. Pei’s pyramid? I am just dying to know.

    Thank you for sharing your unique perspective of Lourve art. The detailed Dutch paintings—like the Jan Steen you shared—are my favorite depictions of food, celebration, nursing babies, and dogs. In fact, the occasional Dutch painter—or maybe it was just one—would use a squatting dog as the focal point of their painting. Such great skills and sense of humor…

    I remember a Picasso event at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco when a young girl—inspiring artist you might say—was accosted by security guards for sketching one of the paintings. It was truly a sad moment. I applaud the French for opening up the beauty of art for home viewing. I wouldn’t be too down on them for not allowing photographs of people as it might steal their souls. If you think that practice is archaic; since you left the states, President Bush banned fire because it looks like a dancing devil.

    Please come home soon…

  3. Fluffies, speaking of devils, I miss the white ones….

    Andy, as I understand it, the law does not prohibit taking street photos, it prohibits publishing them in France. As I also understand it, this apparently became a serious frustration for photojournalists during the Paris riots, as crowd shots were off limits (kind of hard to get permission from the masses) for French publications. I don’t know all the details, but I’ve run across a few photo forums addressing the matter. Here’s one:

  4. Lovely photos Jerry. Its so hard to get an acurate shot of a painting in natural light without some sort of parallax. Were you also using a tripod?

    Aunti Joan – almost gone to SF, CA

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