Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving Post: The Bean Feast, a.k.a. Drunken Old-Timey Frat Party

Dear readers, Thanksgiving has come once again.  That glorious day of the year when the whole family comes together to scarf down in half an hour a feast that took 15 hours to prepare, and then fall into a food coma in front of the TV.  Thankful!

Previously for Thanksgiving I wrote about the Bean Feast by 17th century Dutch painter Jan Steen.  This year, I will write about a Bean Feast by 17th century Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens, because apparently 17th century Bean Feasts were pretty wild affairs.  Although Jacob Jordaens didn’t approve of drunkenness, and his version is like 200% creepier.
The Feast of the Bean King – Jacob Jordaens, 1640-1645 (Source)

So the first thing that catches the eye is this classy guy.

He cares enough about his own garments to keep his cap from falling into his own pool of bodily fluids, but no one seems to notice or really care that he is vomiting on that little girl’s dress.  The woman next him is looking over in a sort of “Ha ha, oh Jan, you need to learn to hold your liquor” sort of way, but that’s about the only reaction. 

Casting the eye up the way, we spot this amorous couple.

My first thought was “Oh my God, he is going to crush her jaw with his bare hand!”  But she seems to be enjoying herself, so maybe Creepy Men With Face Mutilation Fetishes are her thing.

Behind them is this gentleman who seems unfamiliar with how to smoke a pipe.

To be fair, I have never smoked a pipe either, so perhaps I am unfamiliar with the mechanics.  However, I feel like people I have seen with pipes usually do not have their heads thrown back, necks bulging, and chins puckered when they partake.  Sherlock Holmes would be a much less picturesque character to illustrate with his cheeks puffed like a starving squirrel and eyes rolled back into the next postal code.

Other fun partygoers include Doghat McAngryface….

…And this man, who from a distance, I thought might be foaming at the mouth.  

It turns out he’s just about to happily spit out all of his teeth.  There are a lot of sloppily raised arms there, so it would not surprise me if he just got landed with a powerful uppercut with a pint glass.

Speaking of raised things, I’m sure this is meant to be a cut of meat, but it sure looks like he’s about to deep throat a spent balloon or other soggy elongated rubber tubular object.  But whatever it is, he is going to swallow it with gusto.

Drawing attention back to the other side of the painting again, this mirror on the wall caught my eye.  It’s got the back of the head of the woman looking over at the vomiting man in amusement, and the bonnet of the little old lady behind her.  But also featured is….

THAT TERRIFYING FACE BEING STRANGLED.  It looks like an even creepier version of that woman having her jaw crushed above, except that person is facing the same direction as the two women who have the backs of their heads reflected here.  I guess the artist just really liked painting strangulation/face crushing, so physics be darned, he was painting it again.  However, maybe it’s just me, but there is something about a ghostly disembodied head with a grotesque soulless smile over a murderous hand in the mirror without an obvious source that makes it extra terrifying.

In conclusion, 17th century folks seemed to know how to have a rollicking feast.  I think the figure I identify with most in this painting, though, is this guy.
“Sod off and leave me alone, you drunken hogs.” – Flemish Grumpy Cat
Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Steen's feast looks like a Sunday school picnic compared to Jordaen's. What an ugly-looking bunch of phucks.(French? no you said Flemish.) After seeing the barf king, I looked around to see if anyone was depositing a stool sample. Yep, check out Grannie behind the barf guy - doesn't she look rather relieved? Hey it's just a matter of interpretation - that's why you have those long couches at the museums - so you can contemplate what the artist was thinking. In this case I think Jordaen was on the first acid trip.
    I do like the cat. :))
    Happy Thanksgiving Sarcastic Ninja - I hope you can erase this all from your mind!

    1. That is a bit of a throne-like chair she is sitting on. Interpreting paintings is the best part of going to an art museum - although sometimes the staff give you funny looks after a while...

      Thanks, Dixie! Enjoy your day with the neighbors and friends. :)

  2. I don't think I'll ever look at Sherlock Holmes again without picturing him with his head thrown back...

    1. The image goes well with his cocaine addiction.

  3. In spite of the sullen expression on its face, the cat is certainly the prettiest animal on display. I do nevertheless have some appreciation for an era in which women with fat cheeks were thought to be attractive. Thanksgiving, Ms Ninja? It didn't take long for you to become a full-blooded American!

    1. Fat cheeks are fine, but I'm not sure about crushing them with a grubby iron fist.

      Thanksgiving is omnipresent here this week, so it seems suitable. Better acknowledging Thanksgiving now than the traces of Christmas that were already appearing in October...

  4. A condom, right? That guy is ingesting a condom...Oh, you were trying to dance around that, my bad.
    That guy vomiting is a good party guest. He doesn't want to leave the fun, so he discreetly pukes and rallies. Little girls dresses are great for absorbing vomit (never thought I'd write that sentence). They were the Charmin Ultra of their day.

    1. Thanks for the tip on the use of girls' garments for their absorption properties. It would make for way more entertaining commercials if the Charmin bears had to chase down a little girl every time they used the facilities.

  5. 15 hours? See, that's why I don't cook. In my defense... I don't vomit on little girls' dresses either, not even when there's a whole turkey stuck in my throat. Wait, I don't eat birds....I think the figure I identify with most in this painting is... yeah.... Mr Cat.

    1. I support your stance against dress-vomiting.

      The cat is by far the most empathetic character at this party. Although he might well try to swallow a whole turkey.