A dear friend of mine sent me these napkins in the mail. She ran across them while she was shopping, and knows how much I love Albrecht Durer's watercolor Young Hare.
Here is a copy of the original watercolor done by Albrecht Durer (1471 -1528), considered the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance.
At first I didn't think I had anything to match these napkins, but I started looking around, and came up with this . . .
I started with a vintage yellow tablecloth topped with two placemats made by my grandmother in the 70s. These sat in a drawer for a long time because I thought they looked very dated. Now, however, they seem delightfully retro. Just wait long enough, and everything comes back "in."
I topped the placemats with Johnson Brothers Friendly Village plates, and topped each of those with Johnson Brothers Autumn's Delight and Olde English Countryside. The colors in these plates pick up the yellows and browns in the napkins and the placemats.
Just a hint of yellow here . . .
These tea cups go very well I think.
The beeswax candle adds some mellow golden color, and smells so good.
I added the only other yellow dishes I have, the PY Ucagco Rooster and Roses pattern, with a dish I use for pickles or condiments and a small plate I put under the little vase of flowers.
This is just a simple table set for my husband and me. Because he works late this time of year, I eat before he does. It would be tempting under these circumstances just to grab some snacks and eat them while reading or working on my laptop. But I think it's very important to fix a good meal and sit down to eat it, even if I am alone. I actually eat less this way, too, and can appreciate the dignity of feeling cared for, rather than feeling rather neglected and alone. And, of course, he's much happier when he comes home late and tired to find a hot meal waiting and the table set nicely.
I used to have a single, older neighbor who would fix larger quantities of several different meals for herself and freeze them in individual portions. She would take something out of her freezer each morning to thaw, and add a fresh salad and vegetable. This was one of the ways she gave structure and routine to her life, and I believe was part of her keeping healthy and active.
I did a little research on Durer when I pasted the Young Hare into this post. You are probably familiar with many of his works, including this pen-and-ink drawing entitled Praying Hands.
There is a story told about this drawing that, while probably fictional, is still quite moving. The story goes that both Albrecht and his brother Albert wanted to be artists, but because they came from a family of 18 children, there was no money for art lessons. The two boys flipped a coin, and it was decided that Albert would work in the mines (or as a blacksmith depending on the version of the story) so that Albrecht could take lessons and study art. The plan was that Albrecht would then help his brother pursue art. Sadly, Albert's hands became so damaged in his work in the mines that they were ruined for the fine motor skills required for drawing and painting. He never realized his dream of becoming an artist. Albrecht painted these hands as a tribute to his brother who had sacrificed so much for him.
While experts agree that this widely circulated story is fictional, it still is inspirational in its portrayal of love and sacrifice. This drawing was originally known as Study of the Hands of an Apostle, a sketch made in preparation for an oil painting that was later destroyed in a fire.
Durer also did very intricate engravings. This one is entitled Knight, Death, and the Devil, and draws from Psalm 23: "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
And finally, the Head of St. Mark. I love the pathos in this picture.
Thank you for indulging me in a little art history mixed in with a tablescape. See what a napkin can inspire?
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