September 5, 2018

From Vineyard to Vat

 THE GRAPE HARVEST or AUTUMN

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

1786-1787
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Sapin

 

 

 

 

Upon his arrival in Madrid in 1774 – and up until 1792 – Francisco de Goya designed tapestries for royal palaces. The work was unrewarding, as the finished tapestries, kept behind the closed doors of the workshop, were not for public display. The Grape Harvest or Autumn formed part of the fifth series of tapestry designs destined for the dining room of the palace of the Prince of Asturies – that is, the Palace of Pardo, home of the future Charles IV and his wife, Maria Lousia of Parma. This image represents one of the four seasons. The paintings served as models for the weavers, whose luxurious tapestries included silver and gold thread. The theme of the seasons was often used to decorate Rococo dining halls. Goya made the work his own by converting allegories into bucolic scenes representing different times of year. The harvest is adopted as the symbol of autumn.


Like the rest of the series, this painted model shows Spain as a happy, nonchalant idyll. This was far removed from the image, spread by the Romantics, of Spain as a country of cruel passions and ferocious religion. While the harvest takes place in the background, the vine branches at the feet of the nobleman underline the sensual character of his offering (the real subject of the composition). The peasant girl, outlined against the sky, carries a basket full of grapes on her head: a sort of still life emblematic of the harvest season. Unusually for Goya, this painting’s chief protagonists are not common people. 

VINEYARDS

VIEW OF ARCO
Albrecht Dürer, 1495 - Musée du Louvre, Paris
VIEW OF DRESDEN FROM DRESDEN FROM THE LOESSNITZ HEIGHTS
Johann Alexander Thiele, 1751 - Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, Germany / 2
VIEW OF LIBOURNE VINEYARDS
Antoine Héroult, ca. 1840-1845 - Private collection
LANE IN THE VINEYARDS AT ARGENTEUIL (CHEMIN DANS LES VIGNES, ARGENTEUIL) Claude Monet, 1872 - Private collection
VINEYARDS WITH A VIEW OF AUVERS
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890 - St Louis Art Museum, Missouri / 5
OLD VINEYARD WITH PEASANT WOMAN
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890 - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands / 6
WALKING IN THE VINEYARD
Edouard Vuillard, ca. 1897-1899 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art
VINEYARD
Kees Van Dongen, 1905 - Musée Picasso, Paris
THE VINEYARDS AT CAGNES (LES VIGNES A CAGNES)
Auguste Renoir, 1908 - The Brooklyn Museum, New York
VINEYARDS IN SPRING (VIGNES AU PRINTEMPS)
André Derain, 1904 -1905 - Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland
LANDSCAPE, NICE (PAYSAGE, NICE)
Henri Matisse, 1919 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
VINES AND OLIVE TREES, TARRAGONA
Joan Miro, 1919 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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2/  Vineyards on the slopes of Loessnitz.

 

5 & 6/ Vineyards with a View of Auvers is Van Gogh’s twenty-third landscape featuring vines. It was painted in 1890, while the artist was receiving treatment from Doctor Gachet. He also painted a watercolour landscape entitled Old Vineyard and Peasant Woman.

WINEGROWERS' WORKS

ALLEGORY OF MARCH: TRIUMPH OF MINERVA (lower layer detail) Francesco del Cossa, 1476-1484 - Palazzo Schifancia, Ferrara, Italy / 1
PRUNING THE VINES
Josef Herman, 1952 - National Museum Wales / 2
AUGUST
Leandro Bassano, ca. 1595-1600 - Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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1/ Palazzo Schifanoia, one of the masterpieces of Italian palace architecture, was decorated with a series of allegorical frescoes symbolizing the months.

 

2/ It is in vineyards near La Rochepot, on Côte de Beaune, Burgundy.

GRAPE HARVEST

OCTOBER Unknown Master, Italian, ca. 1400, Fresco -
Eagle's Tower, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trent, Italia
WINE GROWER
Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, 1628 - The Hermitage, St Petersburg
AUTUMN WITH THE GRAPE HARVEST
Lucas van Valkenborch, 1585 - Kunst. Museum, Vienna, Austria
AUTUMN, MARKET SCENE IN THE HEART OF A VILLAGE
Sebastian Vrancx, 1620-1622 - Private collection
GRAPE HARVEST
Jan de Momper, 1660s - Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna, Austria
AUTUMN
Francesco Bassano, ca. 1576 - Kunsthistoriches Mus., Vienna, Austria / 6
GRAPE HARVEST or AUTUMN (LES VENDANGES ou L'AUTOMNE)
Noël Hallé, 1776 - Château du Petit Trianon, Versailles
AUTUMN, GRAPE HARVEST IN SOORENTO
Jacob Hackert, 1784 - Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany
THE FESTIVAL OF THE OPENING OF THE VINTAGE AT MÂCON, FRANCE
Turner, 1803 - City Art Gallery, Sheffield, United Kingdom / 9
LANDSCAPE NEAR TIVOLI WITH VINTAJERS Karoly Marko the Elder, 1846 - Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest, Hungary
GRAPE HARVEST NEAR VAC
Agost Canzi, 1859 - Magyar Nemzeti Galléria, Budapest, Hungary
GRAPE HARVEST ON THE SEINE RIVER, IN SURESNES
Constant Troyon, 1856 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris
THE VINTAGE IN SÈVRES
Camille Corot, 1865
GRAPE HARVEST IN BURGUNDY
Charles-François Daubigny, 1863 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris
THE VINTAGE IN THE CLARET VINEYARDS OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE ( Haut Médoc) Thomas Uwinsn, 1847-1848 - Tate Britain, London
THE VINTAGE IN CHATEAU LAGRANGE
Jules Breton, 1864 - Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, United States
PARCEL IN LANGUEDOC VINEYARDS
Edouard Debat-Ponsan, 1886 - Musée des beaux-arts, Nantes, France
SETTING OUT FOR THE GRAPE HARVEST, OBERWESEL-ON-RHINE
Christian Eduard Böttcher, 1867 - Haussner's, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
VINEYARDS IN LIVERMORE (California)
Unknown master, 1870s or 1880s - Private collection
GRAPE PICKERS AT LUNCH A. Renoir, c. 1888 - Armand Hammer Coll., Los Angeles County Art Museum, CA, United States
THE GREEN VINEYARD
Van Gogh, 1888 - Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands / 21
RED VINEYARDS AT ARLES, MONTMAJOUR
V. Van Gogh, 1888 - The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia / 22
GRAPE HARVEST AT ARLES or HUMAN ANGUISH
P. Gauguin, 1888 - Ordrupgaard, Copenhague, Denmark / 23
THE VINTAGE (VAR)
Henri-Edmond Cross, c. 1891-1892 - Private collection
THE AUTUMN (GRAPE HARVEST ALLEGORY)
Alfons Mucha, 1886 - Private collection
VINE AND WINE ALLEGORY (ALLÉGORIE DE LA VIGNE ET DU VIN), detail
Jean Dupas, 1925 - Musée d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France
THE WINE HARVEST (LES VENDANGES)
Marc Chagall, 1954 - Pompidou Center, Paris

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The fruit of a year’s hard labour, the harvest was a key moment that had to be chosen carefully: we “reap what we sow”. It was traditionally a period of celebration.

 

6/ This painting is part of a series depicting The Four Seasons. They are derived from a series first designed by Jacopo Bassano around 1574. The series proved extremely popular and a number of versions were created within the Bassano family workshop. Francesco continued to produce the scenes in the later 1570s and 1580s. In Autumn, the rich abundance of the harvest is illustrated. On the far left of the composition, Moses receives the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. This was a popular iconography during the Renaissance and it was not unusual to include the detail within a larger genre scene such as the harvest.

9/ Turner traveled through Macon in Burgundy during the grape harvest in 1802. This impressive painting supposedly depicts the festival which accompanied the harvest, but is in fact a view of the Thames from Richmond Hill in Surrey.

21/ Van Gogh painted two landscapes featuring vines in oils – The Green Vineyard and Red Vineyards – during his period in Arles, where he lived from February 1888. Van Gogh went South in search of light and colour. On 3rd October, in one of his many letters to him, he told his brother Theo that he had finished the painting: “I have an extraordinary fever for work these days, at present I’m grappling with a landscape with blue sky above an immense green, purple, yellow vine with black and orange shoots. Little figures of ladies with red sunshades, little figures of grape-pickers with their cart further liven it up.” The scene is described in minute detail. The harvest seems to have got off to a good start, although the pace is slow.

22-23/ The other vineyard painting, Red Vineyards at Arles, Montmajour, is one of Van Gogh’s best-known works [click here to see the work in context and find out more >>]. Gauguin joined Van Gogh in the South at the end of October. In another letter to Theo, dated 3rd November, Van Gogh recounts a walk to Montmajour and Trébon, several kilometers from Arles and not far from the Fontevielle windmill, which he had taken with Gauguin the weekend before, the 28th October, at sunset: “We saw a red vineyard, completely red like red wine. In the distance it became yellow, and then a green sky with a sun, fields violet and sparkling yellow here and there after the rain in which the setting sun was reflected." The result of this colorful walk? In his letters, Van Gogh is Gauguin’s record-keeper. On the 3rd November, he relates: “At the moment he’s working on some women in a vineyard, entirely from memory, but if he doesn’t spoil it or leave it there unfinished it will be very fine and very strange”. On the 10th November, he announces that “Gauguin has finished his canvas of the women picking grapes”. If Gauguin’s memory of the vineyard’s colours was spot-on, other details are less exact: the women in his painting are wearing headdresses from Brittany! Sardonically, Van Gogh adds: “I haven’t seen the Breton things...” Gauguin describes the painting to Emile Bernard: “The red vines form a triangle. To the right, a Breton woman, from Pouldu, in black. Two women bending over, in blue dresses and black corsages. In the foreground, a little peasant girl with red hair and a green skirt. Thick lines full of colour, the knife laid very thick on the rough canvas. It’s an effect I took from the vines in Arles. I put Bretons in the picture. Not very accurate, but who cares?”

By comparing Van Gogh’s Red Vineyards to Gauguin’s Grape Harvest at Arles (Human Anguish), we can see significant differences in approach and attitude. Gauguin doesn’t give two hoots for reality, explaining that “it’s an effect I took from the vines in Arles… not accurate, but who cares?” His aim is to communicate a lived experience, something he achieves by rearranging the image to juxtapose the Breton figures and the southern vines, transfiguring the landscape. In reality, the harvest in Province had taken place long before the execution of the painting, on the 20th September. There would have been no one in the bare vineyard at the time of painting. The two artists worked from memory and if they were accurate in their representation of the bright reds and yellows of the autumnal vine leaves (typical of the vineyards in late October, after the harvest) they let their imaginations run wild for the rest. These compositions clearly demonstrate that the painters wished to show their experience of the vineyard, rather than the vineyard itself. 

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING

THE MUSSEL HARVEST (ex THE VINTAJERSRS), Auguste Renoir, 1879 - National Gallery of Art, Washington

This Renoir painting has been often reproduced and copied. It is known by many titles in English and French, all of which evoke the grape harvest. For many years it was displayed in the Washington National Gallery of Art under the title The Vintagers. Upon closer examination, one might wonder where the scene is set, given the astonishing fact that no vines appear in the painting. What was Renoir doing during the 1879 harvest season? He was holidaying less than three kilometres from Berneval, near Dieppe, as a guest of his new friends Marguerite and Paul Bérard at the Chateau de Wargemont, Derchigny-Graincourt. This region had never had vines, even before the arrival of phylloxera! Not only that, but there have been no vines in Normandy since the seventeenth century!

 

Continuing our research, we learnt that this painting had been lent to the National Gallery of Ottawa in 2007 for an exhibition on the landscapes of Renoir. It was displayed under the name The Mussel Harvest – quite a change from its previous title. All became clear: the figures are fishermen climbing up the beach, following a path along one of the ravines that characterize so well this part of the Normandy coast. This is corroborated by both the Berneval parish website

and Mussel-Fishers at Berneval, which Renoir painted during the same visit. The fisherwomen’s baskets resemble those in the other painting. Mussel-fishing was one of the area’s primary activities. So why was The Mussel Harvest misnamed for so long? There was probably some confusion (before the purchase of the painting by the American tycoon Adolph Lewisohn in 1921) between the words harvest and harvesters, as these terms can be applied not only to the fields, but also to the vineyards and the sea, depending on the context. If the National Gallery of Art has displayed the painting under this new name since 2014, why weren’t the database and website updated until 2016? A simple oversight?

FROM VINEYARD TO VAT IN MEDIEVAL ILLUMINATIONS

PRUNING IN MARCH
Heures de Catherine de Médicis, 1500?-1550?
AUTUMN
Tacuinum Sanitatis, ca. 1390 - Munich
GRAPE HARVEST
Heures à l'usage de Cluny, c. 1500 - BM, Amiens
SEPTEMBER
Bréviaire de Grimani, ca. 1510-1520 - Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
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A pictorial technique similar to that of frescoes or miniatures, illuminations were very popular during the Middle Ages. Done by hand, illuminations decorated or illustrated texts, usually on handwritten manuscripts. Until the 12th century, manuscripts were copied out in religious settings, such as abbeys, where they were used to support prayer and meditation. From the 13th century, private artisans began to produce literature for the secular market. This was due to the greater literacy that had resulted from the growing university and administrative sectors.

 

Find out more: Wine in Illuminations, From Vine to Port  >>

WINE AND THE ARTS: SCULPTURE IN RELIGIOUS ART

MARAUDERS IN THE VINE
Polychrome on a capital
12th century - Romanesque church of Mozac, Puy-de-Dôme, France
LIBRA AND SEPTEMBER / 2
Grape harvest and stomping
Portal, 3rd archivolt, calendar, September between Libra and Scorpio, 1130-1135 - Saint-Lazare Cathedral, Autun, France
PRUNING / 3
Zodiac and the Labors of the Months, March
Peasant pruning the vine
Tympan central du narthex, 1120-1130 - Vezelay Basilic, France
TREADING OF THE GRAPE / 4
From an agricultural calendar, Zodiac signs singing Labors of the Months, Saint-Firmin portal, 1220-1230, Amiens Cathedral, France
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The ‘Muses’ companion’, wine is present across the artistic spectrum, be it in literature, music, decorative or fine arts. Wine is an essential witness to our social and cultural history. Although the Virtual Wine Museum is mainly concerned with painting at present, some examples drawn from other artistic formats permit us to illustrate the universal role of wine, to ‘bear witness’ to it. A few examples from religious art: 1/ Marauders in the Vine*, a 12th-century painted capital in the Romanesque abbatial church of Saint-Pierre de Mozac, Puy-de-Dôme, France. 2/ Libra and September, zodiac calendar, third archivolt on doorway, 1130-35, Autun Cathedral Saint-Lazare, France. 3/ Zodiac and monthly tasks, March, Pruning. Peasant pruning a vine, narthex central tampanum, 1120-30, Vézelay Basilica. 4/ Grape Harvest, one of a series of quatrefoil medallions showing an agrarian calendar connecting the signs of the zodiac with seasonal tasks, left foundation of the Saint-Firmin doorway, 1220-30, Amiens Cathedral, France.


* Marauders in the Vine (title attributed by INRAP, Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives) are shown harvesting grapes that do not belong to them, before the official start of the harvest season.

 

Find out more: Wine and the vine in sculpture and architecture  >>

Discover Wine and the Arts  >>

GALLERIES FROM VINEYARD TO PORT

From Vineyard to Vat
From Cellar to Port
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THE VIRTUAL WINE MUSEUM'S COLLECTIONS

From Divine to Sacred
From Drinking to Savoir-boire
From Vine to Port
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In Still Life
In Illumination
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