Your cart

Your cart is empty

Alla scoperta del caffè nell’arte attraverso i dipinti dei pittori più famosi

Discovering coffee in art through the paintings of famous painters

Since its spread in Europe beginning in the 17th century, coffee has become part of everyday life, so much so that it is often immortalized even in the works of famous artists.

From the pre-impressionism of Edouard Manet to the American realism of Edward Hopper, coffee has won its place in the figurative arts by narrating eras, customs and moods.

Not to mention those who today use this beverage to paint, creating coffee-scented masterpieces!

After telling you about coffee in cinema and coffee in music, today we will take you on a discovery of coffee in art through the main paintings that feature it, both as a beverage and as a meeting and gathering place.

Coffee in art: from its first appearance in the 17th century to Impressionist paintings

Do you know what the oldest depiction of a cup of coffee is?

It would seem to be the still life painted by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán in 1633 and titled Plate of cedars, basketof oranges and cup with rose.

In the painting, in fact, a snow-white cup can clearly be distinguished next to the central fruit basket: according to art historians, this would be the very first appearance of coffee in the figurative arts.

If during the eighteenth century coffee was consumed mainly by the upper classes, during the nineteenth century the beverage saw greater popularity, beginning to appear more frequently even in pictorial works inspired by the daily life of the middle class.

We find it, for example, in Breakfast in the atelier (Manet, 1868) in the form of a white cup that pops up on the still-set table as the maid approaches with a coffee pot.

And it is also present in The End of Breakfast, painted in 1879 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of the greatest exponents of French Impressionism: the painting expresses the serene atmosphere of an after-dinner meal outdoors, with the coffee cups still present on the table, conveying the spontaneity typical of contemporary photographs.

Cafes at night interpreted by Vincent van Gogh

If the painting Chez le père Lathuille (Manet, 1879) plunges us into the romantic atmosphere of a couple intent on chatting at a restaurant table while the waiter observes the scene from afar with a coffee pot in his hand, Vincent van Gogh transports us inside his paintings full of charm and atmosphere.

In Café Terrace in the Evening, made in 1888, the painter depicts an establishment still present today at Place du Forum in Arles, Provence.

It is the café understood as a meeting place that takes center stage in this celebrated work by the Dutch painter: golden and bright, it glows under a clear, starry sky as a waiter passes between tables full of people.

More distressing, however, is the feeling communicated by The Café at Night, also dated 1888: through the use of the complementary colors red and green, in fact, Van Gogh wanted to convey the violence of degenerating human passions, particularly in cafés.

From Cézanne to Guttuso: coffee in art from the late 19th century to the 1970s

Our journey to discover coffee in art continues with Woman with Coffee Pot, painted by Paul Cézanne probably around 1895.

The painting has a very simple subject, taken from everyday life: we see a maid sitting during a moment of rest, while on the table by her side are placed a coffee pot and a cup.

The particularity of this work is the geometric simplification and stylization of forms, elements that foreshadow Cubism and represent the change that occurred in the painter's art.

Leading us to more desolate atmospheres, on the other hand, is the American Edward Hopper. In Automat, a work created in 1927, a lonely girl inside a diner holds up a cup of coffee while her gaze seems lost in the void.

An atmosphere of loneliness and alienation not far from the one perceptible in TheNight Walkers, also painted by Hopper in 1942, which shows a diner with a large glass window inside which are three patrons, each immersed in his own thoughts.

From 1940s America, we finally catapult to Rome's Caffè Greco: in 1976, in fact, the artist Renato Guttuso created the painting Caffè Greco, a work that depicts the famous Roman literary café-opened back in 1760-and legendary meeting point for artists and prominent personalities who have frequented it over the years.

Coffee Art: the art of painting with coffee that is all the rage on Instagram

Coffee also stars in contemporary art and becomes a real painting tool with Coffee Art, the art of painting with coffee.

We have already told you about this painting technique mentioning artists such as Karen Eland, Hong Yi, Andrew Saur and Angel Sarkela-Saur.

Another name worth mentioning is Maria A. Aristidou: using brush and coffee, the English artist brings to life illustrations that feature famous characters, cartoon subjects, animals or reproductions of famous photographs.

We can then mention the works of Michael Breach, a New York barista who draws on the foam of the cappuccino reproducing the face of celebrities or movie characters: not only Latte Art, then, but real masterpieces to be enjoyed with the palate and with the eyes, and immortalized forever by the photos posted on the portrait barista's Instagram profile.

What do you think about the role of coffee in art?

Do you know of other paintings in which coffee appears or other artists who use it to draw?

Previous post
Next post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published