Agustín Arrieta: Cuisine lives in art

Agustín Arrieta's paintings of dining rooms portrayed the realities of Mexican cuisine in the 19th century

By Amparo Museum

Cuadro de Comedor (Canasta de mercado) (1800/1900) by José Agustín ArrietaAmparo Museum

Do you think painting food is a recent phenomenon?

For centuries, meal times have been the muse of hundreds of artists and, of course, a meal as rich in ingredients and flavors as Mexican gastronomy could not fall behind.

An artist who stood out in this aspect was the traditional painter José Agustín Arrieta with his paintings of the dining room in the 19th century.

Cuadro de comedor (cabeza de venado) (1800/1900) by José Agustín ArrietaAmparo Museum

As the name suggests, one of the main purposes of the paintings of the dining room was to decorate the dining rooms of wealthy families. 

However, these paintings, also known as Still Lifes, Upturned Tables, or Pantries, also sought to portray the abundance of the families who ordered them.

Hence, these paintings produced in a series portrayed elements that formed the kitchens and cupboards of many families.

Sopera (1821/1823) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Arrieta's work in this artistic genre stands out not only for the sensory qualities of his works, but for the way he incorporated common elements of Mexican cuisines.

Jícara (Coco chocolatero) (1800) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Among them, objects like grinders for making chocolate, clay pitchers, pans, and ingredients, fruits and vegetables, which were common in Mexican cuisine, particularly stand out.

Hence there was a link between the painting and the reality of Mexican kitchens, particularly those of his native Tlaxcala and Puebla.

San Pascual Bailón (1852) by José Agustín ArrietaAmparo Museum

One of the most remarkable qualities of Agustín Arrieta's paintings is the way in which he managed to adapt a genre that had already been addressed for centuries and managed to Mexicanize it.

While his works fall into a category as old as dead nature, these paintings reflect the living tradition of Mexican gastronomy and the way in which it exalts the senses.

Credits: Story

Based on Angélica Velázquez's conference Los Bodegones de José Agustín Arrieta: un Género Para los Sentidos (The Still Life of José Agustín Arrieta: A Genre for the Senses) for the Museo Amparo. 

Credits: All media
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