Ron Howard’s Nerdish Picnic in A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard’s Nerdish Picnic in A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard’s fictional (and sentimental) A Beautiful Mind is a biography of John Nash, a Nobel Prize winning mathematician. If Nash ever picnicked, his (factual) biographer Sylvia Nasar doesn’t mention it. Undeterred, Howard invents a lovers’ picnic at which Nash...
Matisse’s Joy of Life Picnic

Matisse’s Joy of Life Picnic

Matisse completed The Joy of Life [Le Bonheur de Vivre] (1905-1906), a lovers’ picnic in a garden. There is a  cloth, though there is neither food nor drink. Who was it that said, “Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink”? [Also see Matisse’s Calm, Luxury, and...
Effi Briest’s Breasts

Effi Briest’s Breasts

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...
Rorems’s Bitchy Picnic on the Marne

Rorems’s Bitchy Picnic on the Marne

Ned Rorem’s bitchy recollection of a “collapsed romance” inspired Picnic on the Marne: Seven Waltzes (1984). The romance with Claude Benedick was hot in the 1950s but by 1967 all that was left was rancor. The New York Diary (1967) spews his anger: “Sweet memories will...
Nasar’s Beautiful Mind

Nasar’s Beautiful Mind

Sylvia Nasar’s biography, A Beautiful Mind (1998), does not have evidence of a picnic in the woods during John Nash’s courtship of Alicia Lande. Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman, the screenplay writers, thought otherwise. So they created a standard picnic on the grass on...
Frederick Ashton’s Picnic at Tintagel

Frederick Ashton’s Picnic at Tintagel

Until Frederick Ashton’s Picnic at Tintagel, there was never a picnic in the myth of Tristan and Iseult. Thomas Mallory, Alfred Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Richard Wagner, and Thomas Hardy adapted they my and accentuated the doomed love affair. But Ashton found...
Sebastian Vrancx’s picnicky  Feast In The Park Of The Duke Of Mantua

Sebastian Vrancx’s picnicky Feast In The Park Of The Duke Of Mantua

Feast In The Park Of The Duke Of Mantua is Sebastian Vrancx’s fantasy of what the Duke’s Palazzo del Te might be like in summer –if it were not usually scourged by swarming gnats and mosquitoes from its nearby swamps and marshes. A white picnic cloth is highlighted in...
Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Singin’ in the Rain

Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Singin’ in the Rain

Walt Disney’s seven-minute cartoon The Picnic (1930) packs as many picnic conventions as possible. There’s a motorcar drive to the country, a stream, shady tree, a wicker basket, a gingham cloth jammed with a gourmand feast of sandwiches, Swiss cheese, mustard,...
Picnicky Situations in Thomas Trevelyon’s  Miscellany

Picnicky Situations in Thomas Trevelyon’s Miscellany

Thomas Trevelyon’s Miscellany is a meticulously illustrated compendium of 1608. It’s stocked with a calendar, scenes from the Bible, current events, chief court and political figures, costumes, fabric designs, games, dances and more. It’s among the marvels of...
Hilton’s Random Harvest

Hilton’s Random Harvest

If ever there was a phony picnic it’s in Mervyn LeRoy’s film adaptation of James Hilton’s novel Random Harvest. Entirely filmed in the studio, LeRoy’s picnic is blatantly unreal, a fake stream with goldfish, fake grass and a massive tree trunk. But when Smith leans...