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Gardiner Museum Serves Visitors a Feast for the Eyes

3 years ago

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment is a delectable exploration of  the 18th-century’s fascination with food

TORONTO—Visitors are invited on a journey from the steamy kitchens of cooks who advocated light, flavourful cuisine centuries before our time to the dining rooms of connoisseurs who relished their meals served on newly-invented vessels. The exhibition Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment opens at the Gardiner on October 17, 2019 and runs until January 19, 2020.

In a delectable feast for the eyes where not everything is as it seems, historical ceramics, silver, glass, paintings, and cookbooks drawn from major North American museums and private collections mingle with unexpected works of contemporary art, including whimsical knitted objects.

“Food and dining underwent radical changes in Europe 350 years ago in ways that continue to resonate today. We have become obsessed with food and dining—modern foodies who reflect the passion for gastronomy that consumed gourmets in the Age of Enlightenment, when even some princes and members of the nobility tried their hands as amateur cooks,” said exhibition curator Meredith Chilton, C.M.

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment begins in the fertile soil of the kitchen garden, where gardeners experimenting with horticulture expanded the growing seasons of fruits and vegetables. French cooks used this bounty to introduce the original cuisine moderne: more refined and healthier cooking, which gained supremacy in Europe.

French and English philosophers also developed food theories that sound startlingly modern, promoting locally grown products and the desirability of vegetarianism. These developments took place against a backdrop of social change that brought about a desire for informality and privacy, later hours for dining, and meals by candlelight.

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment brings these transformations to life through fascinating objects, delicious recipes, amusing stories, elaborate sets, and unexpected surprises.

The exhibition is organized by the Gardiner Museum and will travel to The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. It is accompanied by the publication The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and Their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment.

Visit www.gardinermuseum.com to learn more.


The Enlightened Feast
Friday October 18, 6 – 10 pm
Co-presented by The Food Dudes and C.L.A.M
Join us for one-of-a-kind culinary experience guest-curated by former line cook turned journalist Ivy Knight and featuring an all-star lineup of feminist chefs. The event kicks off with a highly-anticipated conversation between Knight, The New York Times best-selling author Sheila Heti, and long-time Anthony Bourdain collaborator Laurie Woolever. Guests will then be treated to an adventurous feast that steps off the well-trodden path of Canadian cuisine, with tastes of fresh seal meat, pickled cattails, chewy jellyfish, and more.
$125 General | $106.25 Gardiner Friends

European Union Film Festival Food Market
Wednesday October 23, 7:30 – 10 pm
Co-presented by the European Union Film Festival
Sample European delicacies from the Belgian Chocolate Shop, Le Baratin, Cucinato Studio, Croatia Meats, Chef Janos Szekely, Wines of Germany, and more, while enjoying a screening of food scenes from notable European films.
$45 General | $38.25 Gardiner Friends

Sunday at the Gardiner: Curator Tour and Light Fare
Sunday November 3, 9 – 11 am
Co-presented by The Food Dudes
Explore the exhibition alongside its curator, Meredith Chilton, before the Museum opens to the public.
$50 General | $45 Gardiner Friends

The King’s Peas | Curator Talk & Book Launch
Monday November 4, 6:30 – 8 pm
Join Curator Emerita Meredith Chilton for a lively talk that delves deeper into the stories, images, and recipes from both the exhibition and its accompanying publication, The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment.
$18 General | $15 Gardiner Friends


The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art was founded by Toronto businessperson and philanthropist George Gardiner and his wife Helen in 1984, and was established in a building designed by Keith Wagland on the campus of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The Museum was managed by the Royal Ontario Museum from 1987 to 1996 and then, with an additional endowment from George Gardiner before his death in 1997, became and remains an independent, non-profit museum. The Gardiner’s remarkable building was substantially renovated in 2004 by KPMB Architects.

The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.

The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: www.gardinermuseum.com.


Media Contact:
Rachel Weiner
Senior Manager, Marketing
Gardiner Museum

Co-presenting Sponsors

Tom Kierans & Mary Janigan
Noreen Taylor & David Staines

Contributing Sponsor

Michele Beiny Harkins

Presenting Programs Sponsor

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

Paint Sponsor

Farrow & Ball logo

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