Still recovering from a few too many late nights during the festive season? These historic shindigs in art across the centuries will put your social life to shame. People in the past represented social gatherings for many reasons – to document a historic or mythological topic, to warn against sin, show off their own artistic prowess, or simply celebrate having a good time. Whatever the reason for their creation, we’ve got serious FOMO of these epic parties in historic art:
The Bean Feast by Jan Steen
To bean or not to bean?
The answer was obvious for artist Jan Steen, who produced this raucous feast painting in 1668. We’re not kidneying when we say we’re seriously jelly (bean) right now. From funnels and baskets being used as hats, to live music and even a dog, this painting puts modern dinner parties to shame.
WTF Art History says this is ‘a totally WTF meal that I’d love to attend’ – and we couldn’t agree more! Just don’t ask us to lentil a hand with the cleanup.
Beer Street by William Hogarth
Although fictional, Beer Street is having a pretty epic block party – complete with tankards, snack baskets, and even an artist. Created in 1751 by the painter, printmaker, and satirist William Hogarth, the engraving was intended to promote the perceived health benefits of beer over the new craze for gin, which was nicknamed ‘Mother’s Ruin’ in eighteenth-century Britain. We hear that Hogarth himself had an active social life, so it’s no wonder we seriously wish we could have taken part in this jolly scene.
A Monkey Encampment by David Teniers the Younger
Have you ever looked at your friend’s Insta feed from Coachella and wondered what would happen if they let monkeys in and also hosted it in seventeenth-century Antwerp instead?
Well, wonder no longer.
David Teniers the Younger wasn’t satisfied with painting your standard outdoor festive scene, so he raised the bar by replacing human figures with monkeys. Add food, music, cool tents and great outfits, and who can complain? We’re pretty sure this party never happened, but if it ever does we hope we’ll get an invite.
Youth of Bacchus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Centaurs. Perfect Ringlets. Togas. Music. Gymnastics. Unabashed Nudity. We’d expect nothing less from a party organised by Bacchus, the Ancient Greco-Roman god of wine, as portrayed by nineteenth-century French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
Symposium scene on a vase, circa 420 BCE
A wine vessel for a banquet decorated with scenes from a banquet – we love it when parties get meta.
Before symposium became a synonym for ‘conference’ in English, it was an ancient Greek term for a social event after a meal – even Plato appears to have been a fan. And because the root word for symposium means ‘to drink together,’ it’s no wonder the Greeks made vessels like the one above for serving wine. This vessel shows banqueters playing a drinking game called kottabos and enjoying a musical performance.
Most. Authentic. Toga. Party. Ever.Now for the after-party…
These artworks give a whole new meaning to kicking it old school. What epic parties in art do you wish you could go to? Share it with us!
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