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.
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 Ier, 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 Entre deux mers, 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.
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.
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).