Friday, 26 September 2014


Jane's post today on jam and art got me thinking, especially as I'd also been struck by Stanley Spencer's  doorstep of bread and jam when I saw it at Somerset House earlier in the year.

I knew that Melendez painted jam, for sure ...





But I wasn't really thinking of jam as still life.

I started racking my brain. (As you do when you're supposed to be working on something entirely different.) I thought of paintings with bread and cake and brioche and ham and fried eggs and all kinds of fruit ... but where was the jam?

I was so sure that Tissot had painted jam, but when I checked they'd gone straight on to cake ...

Holyday, James Tissot c 1876




I remembered seeing this painting quite recently, and I was sure this old gentleman would have had jam - especially as it wouldn't be rationed yet. But when I looked carefully ... no jam. (But do click on the image for lovely detail, like the gas-mask on the table.) 

Why War?, Charles Spencelayh, 1938


I thought Evelyn Dunbar would be a good bet for jam, but seems that she was more interested in canning which isn't quite the same ...



A Canning Demonstration, Evelyn Dunbar, 1940


So I set off on a quest and discovered tea-parties that might well have been cheerier with a pot of strawberry jam ... 

Mrs Raynes's Tea Party, Henry Tonks, 1928


And messy kitchens where maybe they'd find some jam if they tidied up ...



David, in the Kitchen, with Thistle, John Bratby


And neat-as-a- pin kitchens where they'd put away the jam (but left the sauce bottle out on the sideboard).

Half a Kitchen, Thomas McGoran, c1956


And pantries full of empty jamjars ...

The Tiled Kitchen, Harry Bush, 1954


And - finally - tea with bread and jam (though maybe it's honey!)

Kitchen at The George, John Kynnersley Kirby, 1932

So it seems that Jane is right . In art, it's jam yesterday, jam tomorrow - but never jam today. And you can't beat Stanley Spencer for a jam doorstep. 



Postscript: Sue has cleverly suggested Coupons Required by Leonora Green, from the Imperial War Museum, for its jar of Hartley's apricot. 


10 comments:

Sue said...

I think this might be my favourite post ever, not just from your blog Mary, but from all blogs. I immediately thought of Evelyn Dunbar and am surprised to find no jam. Will this one do? It's from my wartime pinterest board but you might also like to look at my Domestic Art board where I shall be pinning some of these pictures.

mary said...

Thanks, Sue ! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And your wartime example is great. Later I thought of one by Peggy Angus, The Three Bears - but it's marmalade, so that's cheating. Almost impossible to think of anybody eating jam, though - apart from that wonderful Spencer.

BTW, thank you for your quince advice recently. I have six in a bowl on the windowsill - hard as bullets - and I'm going to try roasting them for my experimental 17th century pie over the weekend.

Sue said...

Mine are golden and ready to pick.

mary said...

Well, they're golden. I'm not sure they're ready, but someone had already picked them. so here goes.

callmemadam said...

What a lovely post.

Mac n' Janet said...

I always enjoy your posts, but this one was exceptionally good, the paintings were wonderful. I just finished my toast and coffee, no jam though.

Cosy Books said...

SO enjoyed this post and the paintings, Mary!

Decided to treat myself to a bottle of black current jam last week only to find a jar tucked into the back of the pantry. Then a friend at work gave me a jar of homemade ginger & peach jam. Now it's jam on buckwheat pancakes a couple of times a week...needs must!

Sunday Taylor said...

I just got back from England where I ate the most delicious jam with scones. This post was the first thing I read this morning and put a smile on my face. Thanks for the little art tour!

Susan D said...

Oh, for Jam and Art, please check out Newfoundland artist Mary Pratt. Well, all kinds of foods, really. Just Google Mary Pratt, Images.

mary said...

Thank you, everybody, for your kind comments.

So that's where all the jam went, Susan - I love the light shining through her jamjars.