Jacques du Fouilloux’s La Venerie

Jacques du Fouilloux’s La VenerieHunting (1561)

Fouilloux's La Venerie, aka Hunting, shows a significant shift so that the repas chasse is a halt during the hunt attended only by men.  However, when George Gascoigne adapted La Venerie for his The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting (1575), includes Elizabeth I to the...

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John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667/74)

John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667/74)

The Book of Genesis is mum about the first couple's eating and dining habit. But Milton's Paradise Lost presents Adam and Eve picnicking on the grass in Paradise. Of course, Milton does not use the word picnic or any such euphemism. He but knows the concept and uses...

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Lucas van Valckenborch’s The Month of May (1587)

Lucas van Valckenborch’s The Month of May (1587)

Valckenborch’s Spring, aka Frühlingslandschaft (Mai), depicts the new season arousing a desire for revelry after winter’s confinement. It’s part of a series of calendar paintings celebrating the months of the year and appropriate seasonal activities. Though, in this...

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Sevso and Casena Hunting Plates (Late 4th Century)

Sevso and Casena Hunting Plates (Late 4th Century)

The Sevso Plate * (27.8 inches in diameter) may also reference a hunting feast describe by the roman writer Philostratus. But the iconography is Christian. The Chi-Rho situated at the apex of the legend on the plate's circumference is a symbol for Jesus Christ...

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Philostratus’s Imagines (250-300 CE)

Philostratus’s Imagines (250-300 CE)

Hunting feasts have a long history. Among the Romans, one such by Philostratus Elder uses the rhetorical device of Ekphrasis, a verbal description of a visual representation, to illustrate a painting he observed in Naples. Ironically, none survive, if they existed at...

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Fernando Arrabal’s Picnic on the Battlefield (1959)

Fernando Arrabal’s Picnic on the Battlefield (1959)

The big idea in Arrabal's Picnic on the Battlefield is the stupidity of war. * Originally Pique-nique en campagne, the title was changed for American readers. The play is Aligned with the Absurdists, such as Beckett and Ionesco. Arrabal was a founder (among others) of...

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Cristoforo de Predis’s The Garden of Delights (1470c.)

Cristoforo de Predis’s The Garden of Delights (1470c.)

De Predis’ Venus: The garden of delights representing the joyful influence Venus exerts on mortals is an illustration for The Sphere of the Cosmos, De Sphaerae  (1466 or later). The original treatise dating from 1230c describes Venus’ feast day celebrated when Venus...

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Lucas Cranach, the Elder’s The Fountain of Youth (1546)

Lucas Cranach, the Elder’s The Fountain of Youth (1546)

Cranach's paintings often conflate the spiritual and erotic, particularly The Fountain of Youth and The Golden Age, both completed in 1546.  The subjects seem pagan, but his friendship with Martin Luther deeply influenced Cranach. The Fountain of Youth narratives the...

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Oliver Cromwell’s Picnic in Hyde Park (1654)

Oliver Cromwell’s Picnic in Hyde Park (1654)

Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, "picnicked" in Hyde Park in 1654. According to Cromwell's secretary of state Edmund Ludlow, "His highness, only accompanied with secretary Thurloe and some few of his gentlemen and servants, went to take the air in Hyde-park,...

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Samuel Pepys’ Diary 1664 & 1667

Samuel Pepys’ Diary 1664 & 1667

Samuel Pepys’ “frolique” is our picnic was a favorite way for him to spend an afternoon with friends idling. We know this from his Diary, a frank glimpse of his personal and professional lives, begun when he was thirty-seven and continued for the next decade. Among...

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Crispijn de Passe’s Picnic in New Mirror for Youth (1617)

Crispijn de Passe’s Picnic in New Mirror for Youth (1617)

Early in the 16th century, the Dutch had no specific word for that is our picnic's equivalent. but their paintings and emblem books primers or handbooks for  youthful aristocrats show a keen fondness for alfresco entertainments that are unmistakably Among the more...

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Alexandre Dumas’  The Three Musketeers (1844)

Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (1844)

Among battlefield picnics, The Three Musketeers sets the pattern for sardonic humor. It’s meant as yet another instance of the Musketeers’ bravado. Still, Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet (his co-author) add comic relief to the serious Siege of La Rochelle and the...

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Leonid Andreyev’s  The Red Laugh (1904)

Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh (1904)

Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh is an antiwar horror story about Russia’s war in Manchuria. The novel is constantly downbeat, and each of its chapters is a fragment, the first of which begins “Horror and Madness.” The picnic happens after soldiers on the front lines...

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Thomas Rowlandson’s Richmond Bridge, Surrey (after 1803)

Thomas Rowlandson’s Richmond Bridge, Surrey (after 1803)

Rowlandson’s Richmond Bridge, Surrey documents a picnic party at low tide on the Thames’s sandy shore opposite Hampton Court. It was common for Londoners to hire a water taxi to transport picnicker out of the city and into the country for an afternoon of eating and...

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Lennart Anderson’s Idylls (1955-2015)

Lennart Anderson’s Idylls (1955-2015)

Anderson series of Idylls are picnicky, filled with people happily dancing and singing on the grass. He called the first Bacchanal and the other Idylls. In an interview, Anderson referenced Matisse’s Luxe, Calme et Volupté as a modern arcadian idyll but does not...

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D.H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod (1922)

D.H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod (1922)

A Aaron Sissons, the protagonist of  Lawrence's Aaron's Rod, leaves his wife and three young children to find himself. He’s unsuccessful. The "rod" is his flute, which he plays well enough to earn a modest living. It is also a pun on his cloudy sexuality, and his need...

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Laura Knight’s Picnics (1907-1912)

Laura Knight’s Picnics (1907-1912)

Knight developed her style while at the Lamorna Art Colony in west Cornwall.  She was nineteen years old and married to Harold Knight. Among more experienced artists and in congenial surroundings, she realized the freedom of expression and technique throughout her...

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John Leech’s Awful Appearance of Wopps at a Picnic (1849)

Knowing that any picnic might dissolve in chaos when attacked by a flying critter, readers of Punch, Britain’s premier satirical magazine, laughed at Leech’s mock tragedy. They might have also smiled patronizingly at the verbal pun “wopps,” the Cockney pronunciation...

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Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out (1915)

Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out (1915)

Woolf's picnic on the summit of Monte Rosa, a fictional place in South America, is the high point (pun intended) of The Voyage Out (1915). Journeying on donkeys walking in a single file, the narrator creates the image of "a jointed caterpillar, tufted with the white...

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Walt Disney’s Donald Duck’s Picnic (1939)

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck’s Picnic (1939)

At first, Donald Duck’s beach picnic is a pleasant outing. Donald and Pluto set up on the beach for a perfect day. Donald plants an umbrella for shade and spreads a blanket for food. Expectations are high. It doesn’t last, as usual. The picnic turmoil is classic....

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James Gillray  and the Pic Nics (1801-1803)

James Gillray and the Pic Nics (1801-1803)

­Picnic, the English phonetic spelling of pique-nique, owes its introduction in English parlance to the Pic Nics, a London club that had a brief run from 1801-1803. We remember the Pic Nics now mainly because James Gillray lampooned and mocked them. We remember that...

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John Byng’s The Torrington Diaries (1792)

John Byng’s The Torrington Diaries (1792)

Among his many adventures traipsing about England, John Byng was proud of picnicking on the far side of High Force though the experience was miserably wet. After spending an uncomfortable night in an inn, Byng hired a guide. Then, stuffing his pockets with eatables,...

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Frederick Henry Townsend’s Zeppelin Picnic (1915)

Frederick Henry Townsend’s Zeppelin Picnic (1915)

Even after zeppelin attacks on London in May and June, Brits are undeterred and cannot refrain from picnicking even under threat of being gassed. Acid satire by F.H. Townsend. Featured Image: Even under threat of attack, Upper-class Brits cannot refrain from...

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Michael Bond’s Paddington at the Sea-Side (1975)

Michael Bond’s Paddington at the Sea-Side (1975)

Paddington at the Seaside begins: "Today," said Mr. Brown at breakfast one bright, summer morning, "feels like the kind of day for taking a young bear to the sea-side. Hands up all those who agree." So, the Browns pack up the motorcar and drive off. Wearing his...

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George Warner Allen

Christ's stunning appearance in The Rubbish Dump, A Black Country Altarpiece. His stunning appearance is Allen's suggestion is that the world without Christ is a wasteland; urban life is wayward, and industry pollutes. It is unclear if the roiling clouds suggest an...

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Joyce Carol Oates’s Black Water (1992)

Joyce Carol Oates’s Black Water (1992)

Oates’s Black Water tracks a Fourth of July picnic as it leads to the seduction of Elizabeth Anne Kelleher, a woman half age, by an unnamed Senator. “A photograph of the Senator and Kelly presents a formally posed group, but what cannot be seen is The Senator’s...

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Madhur Jaffrey’s Climbing the Mango Trees (2005)

The Madhur Jaffrey and Family at a Picnic (1940c.).  Jaffrey is third from left in the front row. Madhur Jaffrey's Climbing the Mango Trees, a Memoir (2005) describes her family's picnic in Delhi in the 1940s before independence and partition. Jaffrey says that the...

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Rita Dove’s “Wingfoot Lake” (1986)

Rita Dove’s “Wingfoot Lake” (1986)

Dove's collection of poems Thomas and Beulah is a history of her mother Beulah and her father Thomas' life together from their courtship to his death. "Wingfoot Lake," subtitled "Independence Day," signifies the Fourth of July. More importantly, it suggests Beulah's...

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Eric Hill’s Spot’s First Picnic (1987)

Eric Hill’s Spot’s First Picnic (1987)

Hill's Spot's First Picnic begins when Spot helps Mom prepare the bread and jam and cheese sandwiches. There is a bone for Spot and a canteen with some beverage, perhaps milk. Friends each bring their share of food, and off they go. Besides Spot, the picnickers are...

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Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach (1991)

Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach (1991)

Ringgold's tapestry Tar Beach (1988) and her children's story Tar Beach (1991) portray classic rooftop entertainment. When Cassie Lightfoot flies over the rooftops of Harlem, the lights of the George Washington Bridge glow against the black sky like pearls. It's...

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Faith Ringgold’s Church Picnic  (1988)

Faith Ringgold’s Church Picnic (1988)

Faith Ringgold’s Church Picnic Story Quilt (1988)  is a painted quilt that portrays the Freedom Baptist Church Sunday School picnic.  Picnic cloths are spread out on the grass and families sit in separate groups eating the foods they have totted along. The children...

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Jim Crace’s Being Dead (1999)

Jim Crace’s Being Dead (1999)

Crace's combination of an awful  picnic and murder is not your average picnic. But Being Dead's readers often find it so appealing they search for Baritone Bay, the place where the central characters are murdered.  There is no telling where they search because it is...

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John Fowles’s The Ebony Tower (1984)

John Fowles’s The Ebony Tower (1984)

Fowles’s The Ebony Tower bears the imprint of Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. Though we'll never know what Manet's picnickers are discussing, Fowles provides some context and conversation Like Manet's picnickers, Fowles's men are clothed, and the women undressed; one...

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Fernando Arrabal’s Picnic on the Battlefield (1959)

Fernando Arrabal’s Picnic on the Battlefield (1959)

The big idea in Arrabal's Picnic on the Battlefield is the stupidity of war. * Originally Pique-nique en campagne, the title was changed for American readers. The play is Aligned with the Absurdists, such as Beckett and Ionesco. Arrabal was a founder (among others) of...

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Picnic Quotes

"I told the boys who enlisted with me in 1898 it would be no picnic—that the place of honor was the post of danger, and that each must expect to die."
Theodore Roosevelt in William C. Deming. Theodore Roosevelt (1919)