The Bean Eater, Annibale Carracci, 1585 ,Galleria Colonna, Rome
Like everything else, food is a matter of social class as well as region and season. With the price rise that has been a general phenomenon in this century, a peasant or urban laborer rarely sees meat except on feast days.
Beans help replace meat in a diet as a protein source. Christopher Columbus discovered them in New World America and hauled back samples to Spain. Catholic Spain dutifully shipped off examples of the new treasure to the papal court in Rome. Since the pope belonged to the Medici family, he sent them off to his artistocratic relatives in Florence. Several new world foods (potatoes and tomatoes) were planted in Florence’s Boboli Gardens as ornamental plants.
Some tips to help to look at the painting:
- Who and what is depicted in this image? What is the central point of the composition?
- How is the human figure dressed? What does it tell us about his social status?
- What action is occurring in this painting? What kind of food is depicted in the image?
- What is the man holding on his left hand?
- What kind of situation is depicted? (festivity situation?/ daily life situation?)
- What form can you see in the composition? (ball, cylinder or pyramid?)
- What kind of colours can you see?(fading colours? bright colours?)