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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

55: Enlarged reproduction of the Porta dedicata alla Vigilanza

Enlarged reproduction of the Porta dedicata alla Vigilanza, from Francesco Orilia, Il zodiaco, over, idea di perfettione di prencipi (Ottavio Beltrano: Naples, 1630), fol. 456 This spectacular life-size cuccagna arch is based on a small woodcut published in 1630. It recreates a multi-sensory triumphal arch erected in Naples in June 1629 as part of the celebrations to commemorate the Duke of Alba’s 7-year tenure as Viceroy. The original wood and canvas arch was completely covered in food: stacked wheels of cheese and loaves of bread, cured ham hocks, salami, and local pear- shaped cheeses called caciocavallo. Two suckling pigs had tubes wedged in their mouths from which fireworks were lit. Cuccagne were meant for the stomach as well as the eyes. At a certain point, hungry Neapolitans were permitted to dismantle these edible displays, watched over by their rulers, local nobility, and tourists, and to take any remaining foodstuffs home.

Josh Brown, Daniel Reeves, and Tony Upson

Medium-density fibreboard and acrylic paint

Based on the copy in the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (94-B11818)

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