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The Fantastical Feasts is a series of panoramic photographs, made by NY-based award-winning artist Claire Rosen, depicting animals reveling around elaborate banquet tables. The images are compositionally inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper and by Pierre Subleyras classic painting, The Feast in the House of Simon. The intricate table spreads are carefully arranged, in the style of dutch still life paintings of the 17th century.
The series features anthropomorphic creatures great and small: from elephants enjoying piles of peanuts and large stacks of peanut butter sandwiches to honeybees swarming miniature trays of flowers, and many other creatures winged, hoofed and found under the sea.
The banquet is a historically defining characteristic of culture and conjures up vivid and colorful imagery – plentiful food and wine, exotic recipes, lavish presentations and glorious surroundings. The evolution of formal dining begins in the medieval era, where dining became a sign of social status. Menus were extensive, but only small portions were taken. Society was evolving, travel led to a new and unprecedented interest in beautiful objects and elegant manners. This change extended to food preparation and presentation resulting in epic food arrangements with exotic colors and flavorings. Then again in the Victorian Era, a boom in exploration and colonization yielded an interest in the exotic “other”, a fascination which also extended to animals and the natural world. The wealthy began to fill their houses with costly, splendid goods, their table settings became more elaborate and dining became a pageant in its own right. Vast, elaborate meals became a way to assert power, wealth and status.