It is today Lammas for the first day of the harvest of grains in the northern hemisphere.
Corn field, Milford, Delaware
Roman copy, 1 ACE of a Greek marble relief found at Eleusis in Greece. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
The original relief dates from c.450 BCE and is one of several scenes of the Eleusinian mysteries which are thought to date to 1500 BCE.
Demeter, central figure in the Eleusinian mysteries and the goddess of agriculture and fertility is on the left. Her daughter, Persephone, the abducted wife of Hades, king of the underworld and of death is on the right. The mysteries were never fully revealed and passes away with the advent of Christianity.
The right hands of the two women are extended to the young boy Triptolemus to whom Demeter entrusted the task of teaching grain agriculture to the human race.
This event occurs after the anger and sorrow and vengeance with which Demeter faced the abduction of her daughter by Hades. That she reconciled herself to to the eventual compromise which ended her permanent loss of Persephone speaks to her grace and generosity.
The most remarkable thing about this relief is the extreme tenderness rendered in marble of these two women towards each other, towards Triptolemus and towards us, the viewer.
Four Hundred Years of Free Labor, 1995, welded found metal. Joe Minter, American born Birmingham, Alabama, 1943
Slaves and prisoners provided ‘free’ labor in the United States for centuries.
You would like to think this ‘free’ labor is history. But it is not. Today it passes under other rubrics but much of the food which is eaten in the West is grown by people paid wages which barely keep body and soul together.
Today is also Lughnasadh, the Gaelic festival marking the first day of harvest.
The Harvesters and detail, oil on wood, 1565. Pieter Breughel, c.1525-1569, Netherlandish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
This golden painting of the communal work of harvesting, made for a merchant and one of a cycle of paintings about the seasons, is said to mark the breaking point in the Western tradition of pictorial representation between work done with a religious theme and work which is representational of the reality as perceived by the artist at the time of the work without reference to a religious tradition.
White Bread, oil on canvas, 1964. James Rosenquist, 1933-2017, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Foodscape and detail, 1964, oil on canvas. Erro, Icelandic born 1932. Moderna Museet, Stockholm on loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2016
Peasant with Hoe and detail, oil on canvas,1882. Georges Seurat, 1859-1891. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
Still Life with Vegetables; 1826; oil on canvas James Peale, 1748-1831, American. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas on loan to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2015
Haystacks in Brittany, 1890, oil on canvas. Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903, French. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Fruit, Jug and a Glass, 1726-28, oil on glass. Jean Siméon Chardin, 1699-1779, French. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Farm Women at Work and detail, oil on canvas, 1882-1883. Georges Seurat, 1856-1891, French. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
Street mural, Red Hook, central Hudson Valley, New York, 2014
Herbs drying in the mansion of John Dickinson, a signer of the US Constitution from Delaware. 2015 and every year, Poplar Hall, Dover, Delaware
Free Sample – Try One, oil on canvas, c. 1888. DeScott Evans, 1847-1898, American. Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Haystacks: Autumn and detail, c. 1874, oil on canvas. Jean-Francois Millet, 1814-1875, French. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Peasants, 1913, pastel on paper. David Alfaro Sequeiros, 1896-1974, Mexican. On display in the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2016
The Gardner – Old Peasant with Cabbage and detail, oil on canvas, 1883-1895. Camille Pissarro, 1830-1903, French. National Museum of Art, Washington, DC
Still Life with Asparagus and Red Currants, 1696, oil on canvas. Adriaen Coorte, 1683-1707, Dutch. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Red Peppers, 1887, oil on canvas. George Henry Hall, 1825-1913, American. Exhibited on loan from a private collection to the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2015
Betsy’s Pumpkin, 1935, oil on canvas. Carolyn Wyeth, 1909-1994. Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
July Hay and detail, 1943, egg tempera, methyl cellulose, and oil on Masonite. Thomas Hart Benton, 1889-1975, American. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Still Life with Sweets and Pottery and detail, 1627, oil on canvas. Juan Van Der Hamen Y Leon, 1596-1631, Spanish. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Breaking Flax, 1850-51, oil on canvas. Jean-Francois Millet, 1814-75, French. Walters Museum, Baltimore
Three Peaches on a Plate, 1868, oil on paper on canvas. Henri Fantin-Latour, 1836-1904, French. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Common pawpaw (Asimina) which, with American persimmon and a number of berries, is thought to be the only native north American fruit. Harvested in late summer and early autumn, it has not been commercialized and is very delicious.
Still Life with Aubergines, 1911, oil on canvas. Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French. MOMA, NY
Summer Pudding. A British pudding made with berries and white bread.
Do you miss England? people ask me. No, I answer, I have carried her with me from when I was young. I eat and drink her. Very delicious.
Blackberries, c. 1813, oil on panel. Raphaelle Peale, 1774-1825, American. On loan in 2015 from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco to the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Squash blossoms and the farmer who grew it. In the oldest market site in Philadelphia, Head House Square. August 27, 2017
Ploughing Scene detail, 1854, oil on canvas. Rosa Bonheur, 1822-1899, French. Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore
Green Plums, 1885, oil on canvas. Joseph Decker, 1853-1924, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Fruit, 1908, bronze. Emile Antoine-Bourdelle, 1861-1929, French. Baltimore Art Museum
Ripening Pears, oil on canvas, 1884-85. Joseph Decker, 1853-1924, American. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Quince. Winterthur, Delaware in October 2105 and every year
Still Life with Fruit, oil on panel, 1675. Jacob van Walscapelle, 1644-1727, Dutch. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Still Life with Figs and Bread, oil on canvas, 1770. Luis Mendendez, Spanish. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Bottlerack, 1914, was a Marcel Duchamp readymade which he left in Paris. This is a full-size copy he made of galvanized iron in 1961 which is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A revolutionary tool in this artist’s hands.
Marcel Duchamp, American born France, 1887-1968
The Harvest, Pontoise, 1881, oil on canvas. Camille Pissarro, 1830-1903, French. Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum, NY
Still Life with Apples and Peaches, 1905, oil on canvas. Paul Cézanne, 1839-1906, French. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Still Life with Blue Glass, 1987, watercolour on paper. Eileen Goodman, American born 1937. Woodmere Museum of the Art of Philadelphia and its Region
Peaches grown outside Lititz, Pennsylvania and sold in the summer of 2017 in a farm market in Philadelphia. Unusually large and very delicious.
Still Life wit Fruit and detail, 1852, oil on canvas. Severin Roesen, born Germany, 1815, fled Germany for the USA during the troubles of 1848, died after 1872 place unknown. This painting celebrates the abundance of North American harvests. Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Maxwell Over, oil on canvas, 1992-93. Ronald Bateman, American born Wales, 1947. Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia
“A” for Apple, 1962-63, UV impregnated ink on canvas, Argon gas, mercury, vapor, glass tubing. Billy Apple, British born 1935 (New Zealand). Loaned by the artist and Mayor Art Gallery, London to the Philadelphia Art Museum’s International Pop exhibition in 2016