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Oktoberfest Paintings

Adolph von Menzel, At the Beer Garden, 1883, Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt, Germany.


Oktoberfest Paintings

Recently we saw Google dedicating their doodle to pretzels, the typical German pastry, as a sign of recognition to the biggest beer festival held every year in Munich. DailyArtMagazine is going to pay it a tribute in an artsy way!

Oktoberfest Paintings
Edouard Manet, A good Glass of Beer, 1873, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, US.

This year the Oktoberfest lasts from September, 21 to October, 6. In order to enjoy its special atmosphere, you just need to get onto a train/plane to Munich, and then direct your feet onto Theresienwiese, space not too far from the Old Town (“Wiesn” is Bavarian and means “Wiese”, German for “meadow”). The name of the space originates from the first Oktoberfest, which was held in the honour of the Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen, who were getting married.

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with Beer Mug and Fruit, 1881, Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany.

Although we probably are more likely to picture van Gogh drinking absinthe in many Parisian cafes, he was also keen on beer. It helped him to start conversations with the surrounding members of the artistic boheme.

Oktoberfest Paintings
Vincent van Gogh, Beer Tankards, 1885, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

This poster was commissioned from Mucha by a brewery in Meuse, city located halfway between Paris and Strasbourg in Lorraine. It shows a typical Muchaesque woman wearing a flower crown of poppies, wheat and hops in her hair and holding a pint of beer (although her grip looks pretty risky). Her features recall Mucha’s figure of Summer which he painted for the Seasons series a year before.

Alphonse Mucha, Beer of the Meuse, 1897, private collection.

Meuse was known as a rich brewing centre, housing 40 breweries in the mid 19th century. However, from the 1870s onwards, competition and industrial mergers led to the closure of many of them. The poster incorporates an image of the goddess of the river Meuse on the left and a bird’s eye view of the brewery, both painted by an anonymous artist.

Oktoberfest Paintings
Niko Pirosmani, Woman with a Mug of Beer, 1905,
Art Museum of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia.

Niko Pirosmani is quite well-known nowadays, but during his lifetime he was earned the living painting signboards for beer pubs and dukhans (small Caucasian taverns). Sadly, Georgia introduced a non-alcohol policy, which made the business disappear and make Pirosmani live till the end of his life in poverty.

I hope you’ll enjoy your Oktoberfest either in Bavaria or in a pub with your friends with a good pint!

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.


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