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!