Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Home Beautiful: A Dinner Party, 1725

A Dinner Party
Marcellus Laroon, the Younger
French, 1725
First recorded in The Royal Collection, 1818,
but probably purchased by King George I earlier.
Crown Copyright
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Elegance and opulence weren’t just the stuff of our Victorian and Edwardian forebears. No. In fact, many a historical figure from many a century was known to “glitz it up” quite often. In this 1725 painting by French painter Marcellus Laroon, the Younger, we see the conclusion of a posh dinner party. Many have conjectured as to the identities of the subjects, but I think that’s irrelevant. What is important is the representation of the antics of an upper class household.

The dinner guests have retired from the main dining room after consuming a meal which probably consisted of a lot of peculiarly stuffed birds, gammon and organ meats. They’ve moved on to the fashionable “Banquet House.” It was in the banquet house that ladies and gentlemen enjoyed sweets, wine and succulent cheeses. Take a look at the background. It would appear that one of the gardeners is trying to convince a servant to slip him a little wine. It’s just a lovely, fun painting and it makes me smile.

During this time period, the French often complained of the blandness of the English, stating that “in England one can hardly tell the servants from the masters” because they considered British fashions to be too reserved. I see nothing at all reserved about this scene. Considering we presently live in a world in which people wear shorts to the opera, I think this scene is all sorts of opulent.

No comments: