Historic Painting: “The Wine Maker” by Hector Hanoteau, 1850.

the wine maker hanoteau 1850 pd

Here’s one for all the wine fans who read my blog! This painting is called simply The Wine Maker, and it’s by French artist Hector Hanoteau, painted in 1850. You can see his signature and the date at the bottom of the stone column to the right, just above the wine barrels. It’s a very simple story: a French winemaker has drawn some wine from one of the aging barrels in his cellar–that’s a pitcher, probably pewter or crude ceramic, in his left hand–and is tasting some of the upcoming vintage. This is what’s known in the wine business as a “barrel tasting.” The light is wonderful in this painting, casting through an unseen window near the ceiling of the cellar. I also love the random objects laying around, the various pitchers, the bowl under the wine tap to catch the excess, a rag, etc. There is a sense of realism here but also a kind of romantic sheen, which surrounding the subject of wine comes off as very French.

Strangely Hector Hanoteau did not concentrate much on human figures in his paintings. He is known mostly for landscapes, though he occasionally painted classical-style nudes. Hanoteau was in his late 20s when he painted this in 1850. A student of the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts art academy in Paris, Hanoteau studied under Régis François Gignoux, a French painter who spent most of his productive career in America and painted particularly winter scenes. Though a somewhat minor artist compared to some of his contemporaries, Hanoteau had a pretty respectable career and won some big prizes. He died in 1890.

I think I’ll have a glass of wine!

This picture is in the public domain.
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5 Comments

  1. Not really a fan of wine, but that picture really brings you back in time (oh my god – did I just rhyme?). The background paints a realistic work setting, and I can almost smell the bitter-sweetness of the wine being exposed to air for the first time in years, mixed with the musk of the stone walls.

    Interesting post, Sean.

      1. Never have, actually. I just noticed the same things you had pointed out – scattered rags in certain areas – not neatly tucked, and roughly put away as if in a rush to do something else (in this case, test the wine). Bottles, and other tools scattered in the areas where they are, or would be most useful, which shows that is was not time to put things to bed and organize for the next day. Perhaps it was close though, as I would have expected a bit more of a mess. Maybe he was just in the midst of tidying up for the day, and he decided to have a drink near the end.

        Not to mention the sunlight coming through the window, indicating daylight, and work-time for most people in that era, as they had only candle and torch light. The person in the painting also appears to be holding the jug at kind of an exhausted angle, indicating a long day. The longing for the drink by the stare in his face, and the impatience he portrays to the painter is another sign that I noticed. That would be his ultimate release after a tough day, and no one wants to sit there holding a drink while their boss takes a picture of them. Or in this case, begins to paint them.

        Not to say it wasn’t a fictional person, inside of a realistic setting, but it all came together to seem realistic. Which really put you in the time. The smells were simply a product of my imagination, using what I find would be the most logical scent in an area like that.

        Most of what I just said was imagination, other than what I pointed out. Even the stare in his face was a product of my own pattern recognition, and you may or may not see the same thing there as I do.

        Haha, anyways, that’s my long and complex explanation for why the painting took me back in time, and felt so real. If I actually went back in time, the expectations I created just now, would likely smack me like a brick wall.

        As I’ve said in some of my own blogs, I appreciate very piece of art that I can find a good story in. This was one of them. Short story, mind you, but there were enough details provided to come up with something a intriguing to the mind, as time travel, always is.

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