Dinner and a little art

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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.

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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?

Linking up with . . . 

23 comments :

  1. His work is so realistic that it is amazing...what a wonderful post! :)

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  2. Such beautiful, intricate detail. He was also a mathematician. A true Renaissance man.

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  3. The Young Hare is one of my all time favourite images. Years ago, when we lived in Germany I needlepointed the image for a friend. Your table is very sweet - all that lovely Johnson Bros china!

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  4. I've long been a fan of this amazing painting. Perfect inspiration for your pretty table.

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  5. The napkins are sweet and you coordinated your table very nicely to feature them. Although I am familiar with the hare, and of course the praying hands, I didn't know who the artist was. It's always nice to learn something from a fellow blogger.

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    1. I learn so much in blogland. It's like sitting at a giant quilting bee, talking and sharing!

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  6. You've set a very pretty and inviting table, Elizabeth and being such a gracious and lovely hostess, have entertained us with your beautifully inspiring stories of a great artist and his courageous and selfless brother. Thank you for this most enjoyable post.

    Happy weekend to you.

    Poppy

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  7. That's beautiful and those pieces are just pure awesome! Those napkins are a great copy of the painting!

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  8. What a sweet friend you have to send you those precious napkins! Your table is delightful.

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  9. Beautiful! I love posts that give history. Have a wonderful week. Blessings, Martha

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  10. Deborah, you pulled the table together so nicely! It's fun when you have an item and just can find things around the house to make it work. I love the watercolor hare! He truly had amazing talent. Whether or not the story is fictional, it was a wonderful and touching story of love and kinship. Thanks for sharing it with us. Happy to now be following you. I have a link party, Share Your Cup Thursday. It's about sharing the things that make you happy.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. yay! when you combine google+ and GFC I'm over 100 now. I tell myself as a new blogger not to worry about followers, but it is nice. I will check out your party, thanks.

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  11. Sweet napkins! I really like the placemats your grandmother made and am truly wondering if I could figure out how to make something similar. I love placemats!

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  12. I've always loved that painting of the rabbit and had to come and see what you were doing with it. What beautiful napkins. I like the eclectic mix of things you used for your table. Hope you will come by for a cup of tea sometime.

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  13. Oh Deborah, I love this post and everything in it! ALL your dishes are my fav and the apinting rabbit is awesome and how sweet, I would have it on my Wall to admire it all day! Your heirloom placemats made by your grandma are very pretty and what a treasure to own. Loved your post! Have a great weekend.
    FABBY

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  14. What a really beautiful post. Love how you did your research into the life of A. Durer.; I want to look more into this history. I was visiting from "My Romantic Home" and read your 2/21 post first. Enjoyed that as well. Thank you for sharing your lovely photographs and stories.

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    1. thank you Cynthia, for your kind comments and stopping by.

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  15. Thank you for the history lesson I learn so much from all of you in blog land, Love all the variation of dishware you used. It is so great to have friends that surprise you with things that they know you need.

    Cathy's Cupboard Calamity<;)

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    1. thanks for stopping by Cathy. I will have to check out your blog.

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  16. This is lovely! I'm going to have to look him up - adore his beautiful artwork! I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

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  17. Lovely image. So beautiful on the table.
    Sherry

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