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Coffee, Tea, Beer… Drinks in Art for All Tastes!

The Tea, Mary Cassat, 1880, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Coffee, Tea, Beer… Drinks in Art for All Tastes!

Throw the first stone who does not love to get home and enjoy a good drink after a tiring day of work. Or find friends at a happy hour to share something to drink, why not? It could be a coffee, tea, whisky or beer, it does not matter. What matters is to have a good drink always within your reach. And there were a few painters who represented delicious (and dangerous) drinks in their artworks. So, prepare your tea, (or get a beer), sit back and relax while I show you some of the most interesting drinks in art.

Henri Matisse, Coffee, 1916, Detroit Institute of Arts

So, what’s your favorite drink? I particularly like coffee and tea. Coffee was my companion during my long days and endless nights in college and to this day is my best friend at work. Where I come from, coffee is almost a family drink. It’s the drink we’ve shared at home since I remember. After lunch, my father used to make some coffee and we would go, me and my brother, sit down and take it with him.

But I think that’s not our privilege: in At The Coffee Table, Edvard Munch features a couple, not so young, sharing this hot, dark drink. Munch was only twenty years old when he painted this work, but it is already possible to note the Expressionist aesthetic that would be striking in later paintings.

Edvard Munch, At The Coffee Table, 1883, Munch Museum, Oslo

But, as I’ve said before about my college days, sometimes we can not share the coffee, and we’re left alone with it. Henri Matisse, who painted the artwork that opens this article and which shows two people who are probably expecting the third one for the coffee ritual, also portrayed the loneliness of drinking coffee, which affects us all: in Laurette’s Head With a Coffee Cup, he shows us the young woman lying down with tired eyes.

It is not possible to go through this painting without thinking how long Laurette has not slept – and what happened to leave her in that state.

Henri Matisse, Laurette’s Head with a Coffee Cup, 1917, Kunstmuseum Solothurn

But, man cannot live by coffee alone. Tea is also needed, and in my opinion, it is a drink that contributes to happiness. What I like most about tea is the variety of flavors. Green tea, chamomile tea, mint tea among so many other options, less known and perhaps even more delicious.

In painting, tea is often depicted by the impressionist Mary Cassat who with delicacy shows women in elegant attire enjoying a good tea. There is not only the representation of the cup of tea, but of all the apparatus that composes what, in many places, is a ritual.

The Tea, Mary Cassat, 1880, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Many paintings represent women sharing tea time. But while Mary Cassat chose to represent them inside the house, Henry Matisse (yes, he again!) decided to show the tea ritual outdoors. The two women look directly at the beholder, and they are accompanied by a handsome puppy. Look at them one more time. Do not they look like they’re inviting you to tea?

Henri Matisse, Tea in the Garden, 1919, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

But not only energy drinks like coffee, or calming as tea the history of art is made. Pablo Picasso is responsible for one of the most famous works of art involving drinks. The girl with the hand on her chin, looking forward, in shades of blue, is one of the best known works of the Spanish painter. The drink? Absinthe.

Resultado de imagem para picasso os bebedores de absinto

Pablo Picasso, Absinthe Drinker, 1901, Hermitage, São Petersburgo, Rússia

Edgar Degas, Absinthe, 1875-1876, Museu D’Orsay.

Absinthe is a very bitter alcoholic beverage, which is made from leaves of a herb of the same name. It was very popular among the Parisian artists of the late nineteenth century. In addition to Picasso, other artists also represented people drinking absinthe, among them Edgar Degas. The two paintings, both Picasso and Degas, are in my opinion somewhat depressing. Note that the three portrayed show a deep dejection. It seems that they share, besides absinthe, sadness and lack of prospects.

Edouard Manet, 1873, A Good Glass of Beer, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Almost ending our list of drinks in art, we could not forget the good old beer which was magnificently represented by Edouard Manet. Produced from the fermentation of cereals, it is one of the most consumed drinks in the world – but we must always remember to consume it in moderation!

From the perspective of Cubism, the malt drink was also presented by Juan Gris in this beautiful composition.

Juan Gris, Beer Glass and Cards, 1913, Museu de Arte de Columbus

To finalize our selection, I show you this beautiful painting by Mary Cassat – one of four women impressionists you shouldn’t forget. After all, milk is an important beverage regardless of age, the first drink we experienced, which in art is also well represented.

drinks in art

Mary Cassat, Child Drinking Milk, 1868, Private Collection

drinks in art

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, 1658, Rijksmuseum

And speaking of milk, we could not forget one of Johannes Vermeer‘s most iconic works: the milkmaid. Particularly, it is one of the works that I most appreciate. The composition is very beautiful and the tone of bucolic realism that Vermeer gives to this painting is very attractive. I can imagine that the girl is using the milk to prepare a cake, and not necessarily to take to her master, but who knows?

Wow, after so much talk of drinks I’ve got thirsty. I think I’ll stop here and see what I have in my refrigerator. Today the best is water, after all water is the most important drink, is not it? And have you drank water today?

Someone who believes, through reading and intuition, that the history of art is the true history of humanity. In love with Renaissance art and a huge fan of the Impressionists.

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