Dine & Wine

Prost! Oktoberfest in Paintings

Magda Michalska 17 September 2022 min Read

Oktoberfest, as the name suggests, is a traditional German beer festival held annually in October. Last year, the festival was unfortunately cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However this year, it is not the case, as it is starts on 17th September! For those who cannot attend this year’s beer fest, we will try to make this up by offering exquisite examples of beer in art!

Oktoberfest Paintings: Edouard Manet, A Good Glass of Beer, 1873, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Edouard Manet, A Good Glass of Beer, 1873, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Let us first explain what the celebration is about: it is the world’s largest Volksfest which usually runs from 16 up to 18 days from mid-to-late September. It is located on Theresienwiese (d’Wiesn) located not so far from central Munich. The name of the space originates from the first Oktoberfest, which was held in honor of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen, who were getting married.

1. Prost to the Prodigal Son!

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Prodigal Son in the Brothel or Rembrandt and Saskia in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, ca. 1637, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.
Rembrandt van Rijn, The Prodigal Son in the Brothel or Rembrandt and Saskia in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, ca. 1637, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.

Perhaps the most famous example here. Rembrandt van Rijn, the ultimate Dutch master who infamously portrayed himself as the Prodigal Son with his wife Saskia van Uylenburgh. This scene was set in a biblical context depicting a man toasting with a beer glass. Don’t you agree that it perfectly renders the merry atmosphere of Oktoberfest?

2. An Elegant Pint

Jan van de Velde III, Still life with Passglas, 1660, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands.
Jan van de Velde III, Still life with Passglas, 1660, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands.

A similar elegant beer glass is depicted on a Dutch still life by painter Jan van de Velde III, who juxtaposed locally produced Dutch beer with wonders from far lands, such as the Chinese porcelain plate and tobacco.

3. A Post-Impressionist Pint

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

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

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

4. Celebrating Beer in Art Nouveau Style

This poster was commissioned to Alphonse Mucha by a brewery in Meuse, a city located halfway between Paris and Strasbourg in Lorraine. It shows a woman wearing a 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.
Alphonse Mucha, Beer of the Meuse, 1897, private collection. Swan Auction Galleries.

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.

5. A Medieval Brew

Eduard von Grützner, Beer Test. Journal Beer.

Who could portray beer better than the Germans? Eduard von Grützner was most known for genre scenes depicting monks consuming beer. Since the Middle Ages, monks were known to build their own breweries and produce this refreshing beverage.

Did you enjoy our Oktoberfest painting selection? Share your favorite beer paintings in the comment section 🙂

Recommended

Dine & Wine

Art History Inspired Birthday Cakes

Birthday cakes are an established tradition for many. Baking in itself is an art – a delicious one. So why have a cake that is only delicious? Make...

Vithória Konzen Dill 13 July 2022

Bistro, Konstantin Alexeyevitch Korovin, Café de la Paix, 1920s, private collection. Dine & Wine

Paris Bistro: Iconic Place, Cool Lifestyle, Home for Art

Is there something more iconic for Paris than the bistro (after the Eiffel Tower, of course)? Let’s have a closer look at the artistic...

Camilla de Laurentis 30 May 2022

Dine & Wine

The Best Autumn Foods in Still Life Paintings

I love everything about autumn – the cool, crisp air, the warm sweaters, the sense that the holiday season will soon arrive. But most of all, I...

Alexandra Kiely 17 September 2022

Dine & Wine

A Perfect Meal for A Summer Day Inspired by Art

Fresh produce, small green gardens, beds of herbs, dappled sunlight playing through trees and onto picnic spreads, fruit, and vegetables are all...

Marina Kochetkova 13 June 2020