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...
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,...
Samuel Foote’s Nick-Nack (1772)

Samuel Foote’s Nick-Nack (1772)

Samuel Foote’s comic play The Nabob, now obscure, is the first linkage of picnic with the euphemism “nick-nack.” He used in the sense of dining en piquenique, which suggests familiarity. The alliterative corruption is meant to be humorous for those...
A Merry Company on the Banks of the Rímac (1780c)

A Merry Company on the Banks of the Rímac (1780c)

Lima was a thriving major colonial town now grown into Chile’s capital and largest city with 10 million. Two centuries ago, an unidentified artist of the Lima School painted A Merry Company on the Banks of the Rímac, a happy picnic in which elegant aristocrats engaged...
George Lambert’s Box Hill Picnics (1733)

George Lambert’s Box Hill Picnics (1733)

Even if George Lambert knew the French word pique-nique, he would not describe an outing on the grass because it was not used in this context. By French custom, it was an indoor meal. Moreover, there is no evidence the English used pique-nique in writing or vocabulary...
Luis Egidio Meléndez’s La Merienda (1771c.)

Luis Egidio Meléndez’s La Merienda (1771c.)

Luis Egidio Meléndez’s The Afternoon Meal is a wonderful example of his skill at painting still life, especially food. The original title La Merienda indicates that this suggests an afternoon snack, which the Spanish sometimes refer to as a picnic. Ironically...
Nicolas Lancret’s Picnic after the Hunt (1735/40)

Nicolas Lancret’s Picnic after the Hunt (1735/40)

Because the scene is obviously a picnic, the National Gallery of Art’s title The Picnic after the Hunt is apt. But Lancret, whose language was French, would not have used pique-nique because it refers to an indoor dinner. More likely, he would have titled un repas de...
Lord Chesterfield’s “pic-nic” in Leipzig (1748)

Lord Chesterfield’s “pic-nic” in Leipzig (1748)

Picnic is unknown in English before1748. Then it appears in a private letter written by Lord Chesterfield to his son Philip, who was living in Leipzig. They communicated regularly, but only Chesterfield’s letters were published in 1774–and no one noticed....
Carle Andre Van Loo’s Halte de chasse (1737)

Carle Andre Van Loo’s Halte de chasse (1737)

As usual among the French, a halt on the hunt is never referred to as a picnic, although that’s what it is. Carle Andre Van Loo’s Halte de chasse is a narrative of a stop during the hunt, at which the ladies meet the hunters at a predetermined place,...