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Staging the Table in Europe: 1500-1800

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by Deborah L. Krohn, editor
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This is the catalog to accompany an exhibition dedicated to culinary spectacles presented to the European ruling classes from 1500-1800.

Curated by Deborah L. Krohn, an associate professor at the Bard Graduate Center, it draws on books, manuscripts, art, and surviving table implements. It reveals the elaborate rituals of carving, fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish as forms of entertainment. And it describes and demonstrates the folding of napkins into remarkably elaborate forms, from ships and castles to mythological creatures and Habsburg eagles.

Krohn relies heavily on manuals for carving and folding which began to appear in conjunction with a broader increase in books on craft knowledge during the area. Though their emphasis was on instruction, often through explicit drawings, they provide clues to a wide range of cultural context, including the social status of skilled servants as well as a class of readers who were not invited to participate in banquets of the nobility but wanted to learn enough about their dinners to imagine themselves participating.

Reproducing images from a wide range of books, the catalog elaborates on many points made in the exhibition, and provides extensive notes on sources and a selected bibliography. We find this an impressive resource for anyone interested in European culinary history of this period.

Paperback. Color and black-and-white illustrations.

Staging the Table is on exhibit at the Bard College Graduate Center in Manhattan until July 9, 2023. Click here to learn more.

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