Caravaggio Bacchus



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Michelangelo Merisi



Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio, is one of the most important artists in the history of Art.

In the famous Bacchus conserved at the Uffizi, commissioned by his patron Cardinal del Monte as a gift for the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand I and painted between 1596 and 1597.

In this masterpiece, Bacchus is not represented in an idealized way. On the contrary, he might look like a man of the people, like one of those characters Caravaggio used to hang around with in taverns and brothels. As in the majority of his paintings, the landscape is missing: the artist wants to focus on the humanity of the character rather than superfluous details. His choice of representing popular, uncouth and clumsy subjects brought him much criticism during his life.

Bacchus is depicted posing and holding a cup of wine with his left hand, as if he was reflected in a mirror. In fact, Caravaggio used a complex system of mirrors to paint the subjects on canvas, just like a primitive photographic technique. Outstanding is the skillful use of the oil technique: the effect of incredible realism in painting the fruit basket and the complexion of the young man as well as the transparency of the glass created a new approach to art.

A recent restoration has revealed the outline of a man’s face in the jug of wine in the foreground that is believed to be the self-portrait of the artist.

Unconventional, introspective and a real rebel, Caravaggio focuses on the human being, describing the imperfections and limitations of his mortal nature.

His way of painting upset forever the course and history of art.





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Mangia Italiano !

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke



Bellino on Braciole


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I still remember Mommy tying up the Braciole with cord as I watched fascinated by the act. Little did I realize how monumental these actions were in our world, the World of Italian-America, the food and the culture. Braciole is epic in our world, and Meatballs even more so, as well as Sausages, Pasta, Gravy, Espresso, and Cannoli, they are all quite dear to us. And little did I know then as a young boy of just five, I would write of these thing one day. I’d write of Spaghetti, Meatballs, Marinara, Mussels, Artichokes, Sausages, Sunday Sauce Gravy, and mommy making the Braciole and Meatbballs. She’d have the butcher cut her slices of beef top-round that she’d season with salt, pepper, Parsley, Pignoli, and Pecorino. Then she’d roll them up jelly-roll style and before tying them with a string she’d brown them in olive oil that would start the sauce she’d braise them in. I watched intently, and someday I’d make Braciole of my own. Mommy would make the Braciole and cook in the tomato sauce. More often than not she’d make a whole pot of Gravy (aka Sunday Sauce) with these Braciole, Sausages, and Meatballs. This Sunday Sauce Gravy was usually made on Sunday or possibly the night before and we’d have just Spaghetti & Meatballs from this pot of Gravy on Saturday night, saving the rest to eat the next day on Sunday with everything else; Maccheroni with Gravy, the Sausage, Meatballs, and Braciole. And what a wonderful day it would be eating Braciole, Gravy and all the rest.

   Yes, I still remember Mommy making the Braciole she learned from her mom, my maternal grandmother Giuseppina Salemi Bellino who was born in Lercara Freddi, Sicily. Nonna Giuseppina learned to make Braciole and regional Sicilian dishes from her mom, my great-grandmother who was a Salemi, and that’s all I know of her. Yes, the Braciole recipe goes back to her and to Nonna Giuseppina, and then to my mother Lucia and then on to me and my sister Barbara, and brother Michael. That’s our story on Braciole. Basta!


Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s soon to be released MANGIA ITALIANO  ..










Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso


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The famous writer and expatriate Gertrude Stein was among the first Americans to respond enthusiastically to European avant-garde art. She held weekly salons in her Paris apartment populated by European and American artists and writers. For Picasso, Stein’s early patronage and friendship was critical to his success. He painted this portrait of her between 1905 and 1906 at the end of his so-called “Rose Period.” He reduces her body to simple masses—a foreshadowing of his adoption of Cubism—and portrays her face like a mask with heavy lidded eyes, reflecting his recent encounter with Iberian sculpture.


Picasso Collects Art

PICASSO with Two Pieces of Henri Rousseau
PABLO Looks at his Vuillard
La nana Marie Roussei
Pablo with un-known person and wife Jacqueline
and some of his collected Art of other artists ..
L’ Estaque by PAUL CEZANNE
from Pablo Picasso’s Collection
Basket of Oranges
from Pablo Picasso Collection
Seated Bather in landscape
by Auguste Renoir
PICASSO Collection
In Studio with Sculptors
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An Artist’s Painting of PICASSO’S Studio at BATEAU LAVIOR, PARIS


Picasso Henri Rousseau



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Henri Rousseau




It was at the end of November 1908 that a banquet was held in Picasso’s workshop at the Bateau-Lavoir in honor of Douanier Rousseau. Picasso had previously bought a large portrait of Douanier Rousseau’s wife at a bric-a-brac shop. He tells then “The first work of Douanier Rousseau that I had the opportunity to acquire was born in me with an obsessive power … It is one of the most true French psychological portraits.

Thanks to the American painter Max Weber, Picasso got to know the painter and he decided to give a big banquet in honor of the painter and his purchase: the workshop had been decorated, the painting installed in good place, the Catered guest, guest friends and a throne had been improvised with a “Honor to Rousseau” banner.
One can read the detailed account of the evening in the memories of Fernande Olivier “Souvenirs intimes” and in the book of Maurice Raynal “Les soirées de Paris”. Henri Rousseau was certainly intimidated by this event, it was Apollinaire who would have convinced him to participate because he did not frequent the artists of Bateau-Lavoir. But Rousseau also appreciated the work of Picasso, to whom this famous formula of Douanier Rousseau addressed himself: “We are the two greatest painters of the time, you in the Egyptian genre, I in the modern genre”. It was Apollinaire who convinced him to participate because he did not frequent the artists of the Bateau-Lavoir. But Rousseau also appreciated the work of Picasso, to whom this famous formula of Douanier Rousseau addressed himself: “We are the two greatest painters of the time, you in the Egyptian genre, I in the modern genre”. It was Apollinaire who convinced him to participate because he did not frequent the artists of the Bateau-Lavoir. But Rousseau also appreciated the work of Picasso, to whom this famous formula of Douanier Rousseau addressed himself: “We are the two greatest painters of the time, you in the Egyptian genre, I in the modern genre”.

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At the Bateau Lavoir, Monmartre PARIS France


When Pablo Picasso happened upon a painting by Rousseau being sold on the street as a canvas to be painted over, the younger artist instantly recognised Rousseau’s genius and went to meet him. In 1908, Picasso held a half serious, half burlesque banquet in his studio at Le Bateau-Lavoir in Rousseau’s honour. Le Banquet Rousseau, “one of the most notable social events of the twentieth century,” wrote American poet and literary critic John Malcolm Brinnin, “was neither an orgiastic occasion nor even an opulent one. Its subsequent fame grew from the fact that it was a colorful happening within a revolutionary art movement at a point of that movement’s earliest success, and from the fact that it was attended by individuals whose separate influences radiated like spokes of creative light across the art world for generations.”

Guests at the banquet Rousseau included: Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Metzinger, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Marie Laurencin, André Salmon, Maurice Raynal, Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler, Leo Stein, and Gertrude Stein.

Maurice Raynal, in Les Soires de Paris, January 15, 1914, p. 69, wrote about “Le Banquet Rousseau”. Years later the French writer André Salmon recalled the setting of the illustrious banquet:

“Here the nights of the Blue Period passed… here the days of the Rose Period flowered… here the Demoiselles d’Avignon halted in their dance to re-group themselves in accordance with the golden number and the secret of the fourth dimension… here fraternized the poets elevated by serious criticism into the School of the Rue Ravignan… here in these shadowy corridors lived the true worshippers of fire … here one evening in the year 1908 unrolled the pageantry of the first and last banquet offered by his admirers to the painter Henri Rousseau called the Douanier.


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Pablo Picasso with unknown wife Jacqueline with some of Pablo’s collected works,                   Rosseau, Braque, Matisse, Cezanne, ….

Everyone thought it was hilarious when the old painter made his heartfelt declaration – the punchline to an evening of mockery. “You and I,” said Henri Rousseau, sincerely addressing his host Pablo Picasso, “are the two most important artists of the age – you in the Egyptian style, and I in the modern one.” Picasso would laugh at the memory along with everyone else. The banquet he gave one wild night in 1908 for the untrained artist nicknamed the Douanier (customs officer) because he had worked much of his life on the toll gates and river duty stations of Paris was nothing but a blague, Picasso would claim, absolutely a blague (joke).

To this day, art critics don’t know what to make of the story. Visit the Musée Picasso and you will see the Rousseau’s Picasso owned, including a portrait of a big woman standing grandly by a curtain, along with the masterpieces Picasso collected by Degas, Cézanne, Matisse, and his masks from West Africa and the New Hebrides. What did he owe this Sunday painter of fantasy rainforests, to whom this season’s big Tate Modern show is dedicated? Why did Picasso throw Rousseau a banquet?


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The Bateau Lavoir


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Seine and Eiffel Tower

Henri Rousseau

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Coming Soon



Venus of Urbino Titian



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Florence, Italy

This work, completed in 1538 for the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo II Della Rovere, is very interesting for its many hidden meanings.

It was a gift from the Duke to his young wife. The painting represents the allegory of marriage and was a “teaching” model to Giulia Varano, the young wife of eroticism, fidelity and motherhood.

The evident eroticism of the painting, in fact, reminded the woman of the marital obligations she would have to fulfill to her husband. The erotic allegory is evident in the representation of Venus, the goddess of love, as a sensual and delectable woman staring at the viewer who could not ignore her beauty. The light and warm color of her body is in contrast to the dark background, bringing out her eroticism.

The dog at the feet of the woman is the symbol of marital fidelity while, in the background, the house maid looking down at the young girl as she rummages in a chest symbolizes motherhood.

The strong sensuality of this painting was therefore consistent with its private, domestic purpose, as a gift from husband to wife.

The pose of the nude is certainly a tribute to his friend-master Giorgione, who in 1510 had painted a very similar subject, the Sleeping Venus.

Thanks to the wise use of color and its contrasts, as well as the subtle meanings and allusions, Titian achieves the goal of representing the perfect Renaissance woman who, just like Venus, becomes the symbol of love, beauty and fertility.












Picasso Lemon Chicken Recipe


Pablo Picasso
Still Life with Vase Bowl and Lemon
Lemon Rosemary Chicken
1 (3 12-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
12 cup fresh rosemary leaves
14 cup fresh lemon juice
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, peel removed, pith and pulp chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toss chicken with oil, rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper in bowl. Marinate for 1 hour.
Heat oven to 475°. Arrange chicken in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; add remaining marinade. Roast, flipping once, until cooked through, 30–40 minutes.
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke


Cezanne and French Onion Soup

Paul Cezanne
Still Life with Onions and  a Bottle
Louvre, Paris
This painting is absolutely gorgeous and reminds of why Paul Cezanne is considered one of the great masters of the Art World. Bravo Paul.
The great Paul Cezanne’s stille life of Onions and a Bottle, and what would be a more than appropriate food to pair this great French artist’s painting of Onions and a bottle than one of France’s greatest culinary dishes, Soupe au L’Oignon (French Onion Soup) an all-time French Bistro favorite … 
French onion soup (French: soupe à l’oignon is a type of soup usually based on meat stock and onions, and often served gratinéed with croutons and cheese on top or a large piece of bread. Although ancient in origin, the dish underwent a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s in the United States due to a greater interest in French cuisine.
Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. Throughout history, they were seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in Paris, France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions. It is often finished by being placed under a grill in a ramekin with croutons and Comté melted on top. The crouton on top is reminiscent of ancient soups .
Braised onions, bread, and melted cheese are the main components of this timeless dish, which epitomizes the robust cuisine of Parisian brasseries. To make it, you’ll need six sturdy ceramic bowls that may be safely placed under the broiler. 
1 cup white wine
12 cup plus 3 tbsp. sherry
10 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sugar
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
6 sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
2 qt. Beef Stock
12 (12“-thick) slices baguette
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 cups grated gruyère cheese
2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat oven to 425°. Combine wine, 1⁄2 cup of the sherry, 8 tbsp. of the butter, sugar, onions, and salt and pepper in a 9″ × 13″ casserole dish and braise, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, 40–45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, cover with foil, and continue braising in oven, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 1 hour more. Keep the onions warm.
Meanwhile, tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni. Put bouquet garni and stock into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bouquet garni. Stir in remaining sherry and cook for 5 minutes more.
While the broth simmers, spread the baguette slices with the remaining butter. Toast in a skillet over medium heat, turning once, until golden, 5–7 minutes. Rub the slices generously with garlic and set aside. Discard any remaining garlic.
Heat broiler with rack 6″ from element. Arrange 6 heatproof bowls on a foil-lined sheet tray, divide onions and broth between bowls, and stir together. Place 2 baguette slices in each bowl; top each with about 1 cup gruyère and about 1⁄3 cup Parmigiano. Broil until cheeses are browned and bubbly, 3–5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Inside Au Pied Cochon
Eating French Onion Soup Can Be Messy
Bon Appetite
by Daniel Bellio-Zwicke