Paul Gauguin, The Ham, 1889 (detail). Oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 22 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1951.
A brief story in the Washington Post about the health value of onions (“nutritional powerhouses” according to Runners World magazine) made me think of one of my favorite works in the collection. Those little onions in Paul Gauguin’s painting The Ham (1889) set next to the slab of ham have long been the subject of folk lore and even folk medicine. According to the article, onions “help protect the brain, keep the heart healthy, strengthen bones, reduce cancer risk and aid digestion.” The rosy pink color of Gauguin’s onions indicates that they are likely Roscoff onions, a distinctive and popular crop in Brittany, historically sold by men called Onion Johnnies, who hung bunches of onions by their braided stalks from the handles of their bicycles.
Lisa Leinberger, Volunteer Coordinator
Asked to describe her ideal last meal, Julia Child (whose 100th birthday would have been today) imagined a joyfully decadent menu building from caviar, Russian vodka sauce, and oysters with Pouilly-Fuisse wine to pommes anna and fresh asparagus. Dessert might include ripe pears and green tea or sorbet with walnut cake. Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child (1997) also lists among the heroic foody’s go-to comfort food red meat and gin. Many an artist has also turned to food and flavors for inspiration and happiness. In honor of Julia Child, we present some of the most delectable food moments in The Phillips Collection .
Joseph Goldyne, Asparagus at the Phillips, 1979. Monotype on paper, 3 1/2 x 3 in. Gift of the artist, 1979.
Pierre Bonnard, Bowl of Cherries, 1920. Oil on canvas, 11 7/8 x 16 1/2 in. Gift of Marion L. Ring Estate, 1987.
Marjorie Phillips, The Big Pear, 1955. Oil on canvas, 12 1/8 x 14 in. Acquired 1955 (?)
Paul Gauguin, The Ham, 1889. Oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 22 3/4 in. Acquired 1951.
John D. Graham, Pears, 1926. Oil on canvas; 14 1/8 x 17 1/8 in. Gift of Marjorie Phillips, 1985.
Georges Braque, Lemons and Oysters, 1927. Oil on canvas, 10 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. Acquired 1941.