Let’s Eat: 10 Famous Pieces of Food Art

Believe it or not (we don’t), it’s already November. With an early Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s time to turn your thoughts to the reason for the season: food!

And lots of it. Not only is food a favorite thing for people to eat, it’s a favorite thing for artists to paint. And sculpt. And photograph. So we’ve set the table with 10 famous artworks featuring food (none of which is a can of soup, by the way). From the heartwarming to the mouth-watering, they’re all a feast for the eyes.

That One Everybody Knows

Since its 1943 publication in the Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want has become synonymous with Thanksgiving. At the time, though, its showy we’ve-got-it-all-ness stoked resentment in war-deprived Europe. It has also inspired roughly 17 quadrillion parodies.

Basket Case

Giuseppe Arcimboldo had a thing for still-life paintings like The Fruit Basket, which could be flipped over to reveal an anthropomorphic human head. His other well-known examples are by turns weirder and grosser.

Berries? Berries and What Else?

We’re not just including this piece because we somehow had never heard the term “hollowware” until reading the Art Institute of Chicago’s description of this piece. What you might not notice at first is that this Berry Bowl includes a finely sculpted beetle, fly, and spider. That’s fine for the forest floor it’s emulating—not so much on the coffee table holding some fruit.

Oh, Puh-lease-y

This “oval basin” is a prime example of Palissy ware, a whole sub-genre of ceramics spearheaded by 16th century French potter Bernard Palissy. We like this one because it sure looks like ol’ Bernie’s serving up snake, lizard, and frog alongside lobster and…baby lobster? Anyway, it’s very French.

Sassy Lass

Kiss Me and You Kiss the ’Lasses is kind of a timeless illustration of low-key feminist spirit. It’s just a happy lady in her lovely home, offering a friendly smile—and nothing more. Try anything and you’ll get a faceful of bubbling brown syrup, ya creep.

The Fabulous Ms. Cleo

At first glance, Tiepolo’s Banquet of Cleopatra is just a lovely scene: an outrageously lavish feast Cleopatra threw to prove to Marc Antony, in red, that she could out-fancy the Romans any day. But it also imagines a particular moment. See, at the end of the party, Cleopatra is said to have removed an impossibly valuable pearl earring and dunked it in the glass of vinegar you see before her. The vinegar dissolved the, again, riotously expensive pearl earring…and then Cleopatra drank it. Needless to say, she won the day.