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Jean-François de Troy. (1679 – 1752). The Oysters Lunch. (1734). 
180 x 126,5 cm. Oil on Canvas. 


Oyster and Champagne at the courtship of French kings.

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Video : Jean-François de Troy.
The Oysters Lunch. 1734.

Jean-François de Troy. (1679 – 1752). The Oysters Lunch. (1734). Rococo.
180 x 126,5 cm. Oil on Canvas. Oyster and Champagne 
at the courtship of French kings. 

Rococo Painter, Jean-François de Troy is famous for his gallant scenes, 
they are so popular at the time it even diffused them in engravings. 

Its paintings decorate the country houses and the castles of all the 
French nobility. De Troy is famous for the elegance of its paintings, 
this Lunch of Oysters was ordered by Louis XV for the dining room 
Small Apartments of the castle of Versailles, said returns of hunting. 

It is preserved today at the Museum Conde of Chantilly. 
This work shows us how the culinary traditions and arts of 
the table evolved since the 18th century. Work is all in length, 
because of the cork which jumps and which have perceives 
in the middle of the central column, to see the details here 
click on the arrow in bottom on the right, if not under the buttons 
details and zoom you can see the painting of good nearer.

Since the Neolithic era (5000 years before JC everywhere 
where the men of this time lived and ate one found oyster shells 
in significant amounts. The oyster is with the menu of the man for 
a long time… The natural oyster benches always have were 
numerous on the coasts of France, especially on the littoral of the 
English Channel and North Sea. A long time already practiced breed 
of ousters stalemate the Greeks and the Romans was forgotten. 

One was satisfied with to fish oysters. The benches seemed 
inexhaustible so much so that an ordinance of the king, in 1726, 
in order to protect the coastal richness, prohibited any species of 
dredger excluded for the fishing of oyster. But a little later, the intensive 
exploitation of the oyster benches involves a rarefaction and at the 
18th century, the royal authority must repress the abuses. 
It is that the oyster, as it here is seen, been with 
the mode at the court and the gentlemen are fond of delicacies. 

The oysters which we see here are punts and round they are the 
Belon oysters of Brittany or oysters of bay of Cancale. Their flesh 
is grey or maroon clearly, they have an iodised and salted savour 
and a light hazel nut taste. They are brought in baskets in wicker 
and a servant, in the foreground on the right, that one names the 
oyster seller, is there to open them. For oysters there is always world 
to eat but much less for the opening. With oysters the gentlemen 
taste champagne which is in an ice bucket out of wooden in the center, 
at the time the seal with Champagne does not exist. 

The empty cuts are turned over in empty canopies cups. 
The bottles do not have the same form nor same capacity 
as those which we know today. We will explain you why. 

From 898 to 1825, it is in Reims in full heart of Champagne, 
that the kings of France are crowned. The ceremonies, are accompanied 
very by feasts where the wines from champagne run with floods. 
Very quickly appreciated for their taste and their smoothness, 
those will become the wines which one offers in homage to the 
monarchs who come in the area. François Ist, Marie Stuart, receive 
some in gift and of the hundreds of bottles are offered to Louis XIV for 
his crowning. In Versailles during the great festivals the sun king 
makes serve that which one calls at the time the “ wine surprised ”, 
the Champagne surprises by are sparkling and the explosion at the time 
of its opening. With oysters be used rather a wine as Alsace, a 
Muscadet wine, or a Chardonnay of Napa Valley, keep raw champagne 
for aperitif and the medium dry wine for the dessert. 

The point of view of the spectator is at the level of the table and of 
the meal but of Troy plays to stretch the painting in top and bottom. 
Play of the glances of the characters according to the travel of the 
cork which change draws the attention of the spectator to the top to 
research of this one. At the same time the foreground the character 
asks the maidservant to clean or change his shoes what attracts the 
glance downwards. These artifices result in to stretch the painting in 
height, this one, already much longer than broad (180 X 126,5 cm), 
seems still much more in height thanks to this manner of treating 
pictorial space by using the attitude of the characters. 

On the natural points of interests on the left, in top: the cork which 
jumps and the glance of the servants and the guests, bellow : 
the gentleman who asks so that one deal with his shoes. 
Around the natural point of interest of right-hand side the characters 
taste oysters and champagne. 

The bottom and the top of the painting which are also before and 
the background are empty characters. These zones which constitute 
2 thirds of the pictorial space are occupied by accessories, 
the cork of champagne which jumps and decoration in top, 
the shells of oysters, the bottles empty and 
the baskets in wicker in bottom. 

The major guiding lines are consisted the glances. The majority 
of the glances go up to the continuation of the safe cork 
in the foreground. The painting is built on the large diagonal 
from left to right usually downward but treated here in rising line. 

Details : 

The cork left with its muzzle which was not detached what 
means that it left only. The pressure contained in a bottle is 
often enough to explode the cork. 

The shape and the capacity of this bottle are not similar 
to those of today. The champagne was a problem for the 
glassmakers a long time. A bottle of 75 Cl contains 5 kg of pressure, 
as much as a tire of truck. The explosion of the bottles 
in cellar or during transport is a problem at the time. 
Also the bottles contain less wine and are smaller. 
Thus there is less of pressure. 

The cuts rest with back in canopies, later the cuts will be 
posed on their feet and the cups which here are used as canopies 
will be filled of water and a disc of lemon to be used as finger-bowl.

Light : 

A natural and white light seems to come from the left but it is 
reflected on the tablecloth and lights all the guests. 


Harmonize and contrasts.

Contrasts between hot and cold colours. 
Contrasts between complementary.

Similary Paintings :

The Oyster Eater. Jan Steen (1625-1679).

The Declaration. Jean-François de Troy. (1731).

The Lunch of Hunting. Jean-François de Troy. (1737).