Consuming Painting

Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris

By (author) Allison Deutsch

Hardback - £79.95

Publication date:

01 February 2021

Length of book:

216 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271087238

In Consuming Painting, Allison Deutsch challenges the pervasive view that Impressionism was above all about visual experience. Focusing on the language of food and consumption as they were used by such prominent critics as Baudelaire and Zola, she writes new histories for familiar works by Manet, Monet, Caillebotte, and Pissarro and creates fresh possibilities for experiencing and interpreting them.

Examining the culinary metaphors that the most influential critics used to express their attraction or disgust toward painting, Deutsch rethinks French modern-life painting in relation to the visceral reactions that these works evoked in their earliest publics. Writers posed viewing as analogous to ingestion and used comparisons to food to describe the appearance of paint and the painter’s process. The food metaphors they chose were aligned with specific female types, such as red meat for sexualized female flesh, confections for fashionably made-up women, and hearty vegetables for agricultural laborers. These culinary figures of speech, Deutsch argues, provide important insights into both the fabrication of the feminine and the construction of masculinity in nineteenth-century France. Consuming Painting exposes the social politics at stake in the deeply gendered metaphors of sense and sensation.

Original and convincing, Consuming Painting upends traditional narratives of the sensory reception of modern painting. This trailblazing book is essential reading for specialists in nineteenth-century art and criticism, gender studies, and modernism.

Consuming Painting offers an impressive new take on the history of late nineteenth-century French art, one that makes clear for the first time the sensorial range in the historical reception of modern painting. In her reevaluation and retranslation of art criticism, combined with her highly persuasive descriptions of a range of paintings, Deutsch shows the sustained discourse of desire and disgust built into the deeply gendered metaphorics of painting as culinary consumption.”

—Marnin Young, author of Realism in the Age of Impressionism: Painting and the Politics of Time