Félix Bracquemond – from the Service Rousseau

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Félix Bracquemond, Dinnerware from the Service Rousseau (1866-75)
Hand-painted earthenware with transfer-printed designs
On view at Portland Art Museum (Jan. 11 – May 4, 2014)

Here is something charming and whimsical from “Feast and Famine: The Pleasures and Politics of Food” at Portland Art Museum (discussions of some more weighty works will be coming up next). This dinner service, created by Félix Bracquemond for Henri Rousseau looks contemporary and fresh. It makes me smile and I’d love to serve dinner on it. A nice extra layer is that this was commissioned by Henri Rousseau, a tax collector turned artist who painted flat and expressionistic jungle scenes inspired not by visits to distant lands but to the zoo. For me it’s also nice reminder that we’ve been looking to the natural world for decoration and filtering it through our cultural predilections for a long, long time. It’s not just in today’s world of Etsy, hipster craftiness, and Portlandia’s “put a bird on it” that we like to have animals join us for dinner.

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