Sara & Gerald Murphy picnic in Antibes

Sara & Gerald Murphy picnic in Antibes

Villa America, Sara and Gerald Murphy’s home in Antibes looked down on a beach called La Garoupe, where they spread oriental carpets on the sand and drank wine and cold Veuve Cliquot. They were prodigious drinkers but what they ate is a mystery. During the 1920s,...
John Banville’sThe Sea

John Banville’sThe Sea

John Manville’s The Sea is about a man’s untrustworthy memories—less about his dying wife, and more about his sexual awakening when he was about eleven years old. Looking back, Max Morden realizes that his observations of the Grace family’s beach picnics “changed his...
Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden

Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden has two picnics; one is unpleasant and the other happy. They are key moments in the novel, but John Irvin’s film with a script by John Scott Linville omits them. Instead there are two outings at the beach neither of which is more than eye candy. For...
Fontane’s Effi Briest

Fontane’s Effi Briest

Proving that picnics and love are a natural combination, the plot of Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest hinges on a beach-picnic love affair. At first, it’s a recreational outing for Effi Briest, her husband, Geert von Innstettin, and a friend, Major von Crampas. But when...
Bonnard’s By the Sea, Under the Pines

Bonnard’s By the Sea, Under the Pines

By the Sea, Under the Pines (1921) is Pierre Bonnard’s picnic of mood and atmosphere not food and drink. It’s situated on the bluff near St. Tropez overlooking the brilliant blue ocean. Around the woman, a man, a child and a recumbent dog, everything is gold, yellow,...
Hogg’s Glum Picnic (and Nobody Cares)

Hogg’s Glum Picnic (and Nobody Cares)

Glum! The Isles of Scilly, usually clement, but this picnic is cold. It’s perfect for a glum family on a short vacation to see off Edward, who is about to leave for a new job of combating AIDS and promoting safe sex in Africa. There is some levity, a few smiles, but...
Banksy’s Beach Picnic

Banksy’s Beach Picnic

Banksy’s satirical Picnic contrasts a group of indigenous African hunter-gatherers bewildered by the picnic of a White middle-class urban family picnicking on the beach. The contrast of civilizations and technologies suggests irreconcilable differences that as of...
Lee’s Excursion to Weston-Super-Mare

Lee’s Excursion to Weston-Super-Mare

Among Laurie Lee’s vivid memories is his first picnic by the sea, a grand event sponsored by the Slad church choir. It was an annual trek of fifty-one miles to Weston-Super-Mare, on the coast, for which the most of the townsfolk stuffed themselves into hired five...
Carracci’s Bathers, circa 1616

Carracci’s Bathers, circa 1616

Though it is unmistakably beach picnic  and might have been called a merienda, Antonio Carracci settles for Landscape with Bathers (1616c.). It’s a tumultuous scene with barren jutting rocks, but Carracci’s focus is a serene woman dressed in red sitting on a white...
Welles’ Picnic in the Everglades

Welles’ Picnic in the Everglades

A unpleasant picnic that ends with a slap in the face. Despite the southern Florida heat, Charles Foster Kane and Susan Alexander are lounging by a crackling fireplace in Xanadu, their palatial estate: he in front of the fire; she at the other end of the room doing a...