Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics

Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics

While serving as Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner in Baghdad, Bell was a spy. Often her dual roles were indistinguishable, never more so at picnics Once using a picnic as a mask, she and her companions took an official to a lonely beach for an...

John Leech’s Awful Appearance of Wopps at a Picnic

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...

Fred Cress’ An Outing

Cress’ An Outing defies expectation. No one that I know has managed to project such a cantankerous couple on the grass. I surly slap at Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe. Maybe? Not happy! See: Fred Cress. An Outing (1996),Synthetic polymer paint on...
Günter Grass’ Barbaric Picnic in The Flounder

Günter Grass’ Barbaric Picnic in The Flounder

Grass’ unconventional picnic in The Flounder (1977) is among the worst. Not only does Grass mock the accepted idea of a picnic but in doing so turns Greek mythology topsy-turvy. It’s an episode in which the key figure is Sybille, aka Billie, a name that is a variation...
Virginia Woolf’s picnic on Monte Rosa (The Voyage Out)

Virginia Woolf’s picnic on Monte Rosa (The Voyage Out)

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 single file, the narrator creates the image of “a jointed caterpillar, tufted with the white...
Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Trillin’s joke about his “no-frills picnic” while en route from New York to Miami is a tongue-in-cheek report of the consequences of his wife Alice’s frugality that he calls “Law of Compensatory Cashflow.” Because Trillin always (almost) defers to Alice’s superior...

Barbara Kingsolver’s Picnic in The Poisonwood Bible

Among ruined picnics, Kingsolver’s Congo picnic ranks high. It’s a highlight of misadventure in The Poisonwood Wood Bible, a novel the name of which is derived from a misunderstanding of local language. When Reverend Nathan Price says, “Tata Jesus is...
Ando Hiroshige’s Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama

Ando Hiroshige’s Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama

Hiroshige’s sly sense of humor turns this hanami topsy-turvy. What his title Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama does not suggest tis that hanami is a drunken brawl. Well into the afternoon, some of the men are fist fighting and providing spectacle for of nearby...
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,...
George Cruikshank’s Pic Nic disturbed by a Swarm of Bees

George Cruikshank’s Pic Nic disturbed by a Swarm of Bees

Round up the usual suspects! Featured Image: George Cruikshank. Pic Nic disturbed by a Swarm of Bees. Aquatint. London: George Humphrey, 1826;    http://images.library.yale.edu/walpoleweb/oneitem.asp?imageId=lwlpr12922.  A black and white print is the British Museum...