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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 325: A Feast for the Eyes: Representations of Eating in Art

Monday 4 July 2016, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Harriet Mahood, Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading
Paper 325-aA Dreamt Feast: Culinary Marvels in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
(Language: English)
Efthymia Priki, Department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Index terms: Art History - General, Language and Literature - Italian
Paper 325-bDon't Play with Your Food: Food and Humour in the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles
(Language: English)
Kleio Pethainou, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 325-cBreaking Bread, Breaking Hearts: Hospitality in Late Medieval Sicily
(Language: English)
Kristen Streahle, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut, Firenze
Index terms: Architecture - Secular, Art History - Painting

Paper -a:
In Chapter 9 of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499, Venice), the dreamer, Poliphilo, is invited to the banquet of Queen Eleuterylida, which entails an imaginative and luxurious nine-course meal accompanied by music and concluded by an unusual ballet that resembles a type of chess game. This paper will be an in-depth examination of this episode discussing the structure, content, narrative function and meaning of Eleuterylida’s oneiric banquet as well as its visual representation in the accompanying woodcuts. Additionally, the paper will attempt to place the banquet within the context of late medieval and early renaissance feasting practices and cuisine, exploring the boundary between fiction and reality.

Paper -b:
Food, feasting, and banquets are very often an inspiration for comedy. Examples include the eating habits of the clergy, edible gifts given to lovers, and, interestingly, food as means of seduction and pleasure. Banquets are always a good excuse to summon a gathering, providing an excellent setting for the comedy to unfold. This paper will discuss the connection between food and humour, as seen in the illuminations of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles manuscript (MS Hunter 252), today in Glasgow University Library. How is this humour treated visually and how are the table settings and similar gatherings represented in the illuminations?

Paper -c:
As vibrantly depicted on the Grand Salon ceiling of the Palazzo Chiaramonte, when guests violate expected behavior disaster follows. The result of Holofernes sharing a flask of wine with Judith, of Dido offering her heart to Aeneas, and of Medea passing bread to Jason is calamitous. Such scenes lead viewers to wonder their purpose in a space designed for feasting. This study uncovers the dramatic transition from conviviality and violence on the painted ceiling - the moments when a good feast goes terribly wrong - and analyses the narratives in light of contemporary alimentary practices in 14th-century Palermo drawn from personal correspondence, public notices, and law codes.