Food and Art, and a Deja vu Experience with Lady Caroline Blackwood

In art, the classical female figure is often depicted with food (usually fruit). Perhaps this indicated man’s two great passions are sex and food.

I was discussing this today with a friend who wrote her doctoral theses in Art History on The Femme Fatale in Art. Looking through the art books on her bookshelves reveled some interesting titles. Flipping through one I couldn’t believe my eyes as it appeared one illustration was a painting of Emma. “Don’t be silly” my friend replied - Emma is only a femme fatale to you - these books talk about women through the ages who were femme fatales to entire societies. Look at this painting of Cleopatra by Jean-Leon Gerome from 1866. Or think of Marilyn Monroe’s Pop Art portrait by Andy Warhol in the 1960s - Marilyn enchanted an entire country.“

Yes, I replied, I see your point - but I’m not joking - this girl looks like Emma looked when I first met her. Who is she?

Lucian Freud: Girl in Bed, 1952. (portrait of Caroline Blackwood)

It turns out the painting in question  was done in 1952 by Lucian Freud (1922-2011). It is of Lady Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) - a femme fatale who married the famous painter who did the portrait. The painting was done in 1952 (contemporary realism) when Caroline was either twenty or twenty-one years old. I wanted to order a 1:1 reproduction of this to frame and hang in a room somewhere in my house, but can’t as it is not on display in an art museum as it is in a private collection. Lucian Feud was not one of my favorite artists, but this painting speaks to me.

I was intrigued by Lady Caroline Blackwood, and Googled her. Turns out she was an aristocrat and novelist, know in the popular mind for her intelligence, beauty and for her high-profile marriages - first to the British painter Lucian Freud, then to the composer Citkowitz, then to American poet Robert Lowell. When Lowell died of a heart attack while a passenger in a New York taxi in 1977, his body was discovered by his apartment doorman who opened the taxi door and found Lowell clutching a reproduction of this very painting (Freud’s Girl in Bed, 1952).  This girl had some serious femme fatale appeal!  Lowell once described her as "a mermaid who dines on the bones of her winded lovers.” Wow.

Some other femme fatales in art:

Cleopatra before Caesar by Jean-Leon Gerome (1866)

Marilyn Monroe Diptych by Andy Warhol (1962) Tate, London.

To touch on artists still alive and painting beautiful women - here we have British artist Tony Martin (showing his paintings to Prince Charles in 2012), aged 26, from Yorkshire, who paints food, and nudes with food, in a photo-realist style. His works often can sell for 25,000 GBP. His style reminds me of Mel Ramos (1935 -  ) a bit.

A painting by Tony Martin. I don’t know the title. The femme fatale of the Kit Kat?  I wonder if her name is ‘Kat’? Cute girl.

Daisy as femme fatale in The Great Gatsby.

OK, enough of the art history exploration for today. Tonight I will visit Origin North (which just opened this week to much fanfare at Bayview & Sheppard) and write a restaurant review for you, which I will post here tomorrow.


1. You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Tony Martin) 2. Frenesi (Artie Shaw) 3. I Wanna Be Loved By You (Marilyn Monroe) 4. Stardust (Artie Shaw) 5. Autumn Leaves (Roger Williams) 6. Peggy, The Pin-Up Girl (The Glenn Miller Orchestra) 7. Sing, Sing, Sing (Benny Goodman & His Orchestra) 8. Thanks (Bing Crosby) 9. I Only Have Eyes For You (The Flamingos) 10. Dancing Cheek To Cheek (Fred Astaire) 11. In The Mood (The Glenn Miller Orchestra) 12. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Billie Holiday) 13. Moonglow (Benny Goodman & His Orchestra) 14. Once And For Always (Jo Stafford) 15. Moonlight Serenade (Glen Gray and the Time Life Orchestra) 16. The Memory Of This Dance (Glen Gray and the Time Life Orchestra) 17. Istanbul, Not Constantinople (The Four Lads) 18. La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf) 19. Long Ago And Far Away (Jo Stafford)

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