“And yet I believe that much happiness belongs to men, born where good wines are found.” Leonardo Da Vinci
Everything we say about wine, we can say about art, and if we talk about the art of making wine, that is the skill of winemakers, cellarmen and oenologists, who with their experience give life to an extraordinary product (which the director , journalist and refined gourmet Mario Soldati called “poetry of the earth”), we can also speak of wine in art.
It is a long history full of great artists and great works, where wine in the bottle, in a glass or simply still imprisoned in a bunch of grapes, is the protagonist and, not surprisingly, exhibited on the walls of a museum.
In Florence we are lucky enough to be able to admire at least four stupendous works by great artists:
In the Uffizi museum there is a painting by Caravaggio, Bacchus, the god of wine (1596), where Bacchus is lying on a triclinium bed placed next to a table, on which is placed a ceramic basket full of fruit, and she holds a delicate glass goblet filled with red wine, freshly poured from a bottle nearby.
The marble sculpture of Bacchus by Michelangelo (1497), perhaps the most mysterious work he created, is on display at the Bargello National Museum. The statue, which with the pedestal exceeds two meters in height, shows an imbalance in the figure of the young man, to show off his drunkenness, and a vacant and absorbed expression of the gaze, added to clarify the moral meaning of the work, that is the condemnation of vice.
In the Palatine Gallery at Palazzo Pitti we can admire the Young Bacchus (1623) by Guido Reni an oil on canvas depicting Bacchus as a child who, leaning on a small barrel, copiously drinks wine from a flask while, quietly, pees on the ground.
In the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano (Prato) there is instead the Museum of Still Life where the eighteenth-century canvases of Bartolomeo Bimbi are placed, where there are “portrayed in nature many sorts and grapes, and also of many beautiful flowers and many different citrus fruits and other precious fruits for their rarity, or for their size, and prodigious figure
But up to the present day wine is on the canvases of great painters and present in private and museum collections. A list? Here it is, but it’s certainly not complete:
Jan Vermeer, The Glass of Wine, 1660, oil on canvas (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)
Joan Miró, The bottle of wine, 1924, Fondacion Joan Mirò, Barcelona
Pablo Picasso, The bottle of wine, 1926, Oil on canvas Fondation Beyeler
Paul Cézanne, The Drinker, 1891 oil on canvas, The Barnes Foundation (United States)