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...

Billy Collin’s “Picnic Lightning” (1997)

Billy Collins’ “Picnic Lightning” is a tender meditation on the poet’s mortality. It’s always imminent, like lightning at a picnic, but not fearful. Aware that the phrase “picnic lightning” is from Nabokov’s Lolita,...
Ludolf Bakhuizen’s  Picnick aan zee  (1701)

Ludolf Bakhuizen’s Picnick aan zee (1701)

Bakhuizen embellished this seascape (his usual subject ) with a group of picnickers. The word picnic was used in Europe in 1701. The contemporary title Picnick ann zee is appropriate but inaccurate. A century later, Turner embellished many of his picturesque views...
Charles Simic’s “Night Picnic” (2001)

Charles Simic’s “Night Picnic” (2001)

Simic’s “Night Picnic” takes place on the grass on a very dark looking at the vast starless sky.  The narrator finds it slightly ironic that in such a situation, he and his companion should be drinking red wine and nibbling a crust. Wine and bread suggest communion,...
P.H. Newby’s The Picnic at Sakkara (1955)

P.H. Newby’s The Picnic at Sakkara (1955)

Newby’s Picnic At Sakkara is a comic novel set during political and international turmoil in Egypt.   At the time of Newby’s action around 1946-47, the British are still in control of the Suez Canal, the Farouk regime was wobbling, and Egyptian nationalism led by the...
Francisco Goya’s Merienda a orillas del Manzanares (1776)

Francisco Goya’s Merienda a orillas del Manzanares (1776)

Francesco de Goya. Merienda a orillas del Manzanares [Picnic At the Edge of the Manzanares River] (1776) is a tapestry painting intended for the dining room of Prince and Princess of Asturias in the San Lorenzo Palace in Madrid. Goya described the subject as a...

Louis Le Brocquy’s A Picnic (1940)

Anne Madden, Louis Le Brocquy’s second wife, remembers only that his A Picnic model was a friend. Perhaps, she didn’t recall or know that the woman in black and white  (besides the umbrella) is Le Brocquy’s first wife, Jane Stoney. (She’s the same woman with the same...

Thomas Rowlandson’s Hunt the Slipper, Pic-Nic Revels (1802)

Rowlandson’s Hunt the Slipper, Pic-Nic Revels satirizes the Pic-Nics, a society of Dilettanti  (amateur actors),  gamblers, and gourmands who briefly flourished 1802-3. The rules of the Society are framed on the wall: Ici on boit, on danse, on rit! Et quelquefois on...
Pic Nic Society hosts a Balloon Launching (1802)

Pic Nic Society hosts a Balloon Launching (1802)

Among the Pic Nic Society anecdotes is its sponsorship of a balloon launch. In London. In July 1802, the Pic Nics called an ad hoc meeting to watch and cheer Jacques Garnerin’s successful launch of a hot air balloon from Ranelagh Gardens. See: Universal Magazine of...
Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Picnics in Jack London’s Martin Eden contrast social disparities between the poor working and genteel upper classes. London’s Martin Eden alludes to Horatio Alger Jr.’s heroes who rise in society through hard work and education. But London disparages Alger’s optimism....