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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

34: Aer (Air), from The Four Elements

Taste and Touch come together in this image alluding to both food and sex. A bird perches on the finger of the hunter, shown with dead songbirds strung from his belt and a waist pouch bulging suggestively with other slain game. His female companion, sitting between his splayed legs, embraces him whilst fingering his doublet. The Dutch 2019-12-04- for birding, vogelen, is a vulgar expression for sex. A hunting party cavorts at right, while a squadron of birds soars overhead. The Latin inscription refers to birds as ‘the most acceptable foods for our tables’ because they occupied the space closest to heaven.

Crispijn I de Passe (1564 –1637), after Maarten de Vos (1532 – 1603) Netherlands, 1613


Founder’s Bequest, 1816 (24.I.3-271)

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