I’ve often found that wine lovers and art lovers are the same people. After all, the two are a significant portion of what makes up the “finer things” in life. This view was confirmed for me this weekend when I was in Chicago and took a trip to the newly-expanded Art Institute, where a special exhibit, A Case for Wine, is currently on display.
Wine has been an important part of the Art Institute’s prestigious collections since the beginning of the museum’s history in 1879. Some of the first classical antiques the Institute acquired included jugs for storing wine, and the first collection of Dutch master paintings they purchased included a familial scene that portrayed wine drinking.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the museum was fortunate to purchase a portion of Jacque Muesum’s collection of European glass and a similar collection that had belonged to J.P. Morgan. A Case for Wine, currently on view at the museum, features many beautiful drinking vessels from both of these collections.
What struck me the most is how skillful artists can bring new beauty to everyday activities such as drinking wine. Paintings and tapestries displaying wine drinking, winemaking and simple motifs of grapes and vines were an impressive reminder of the muse-like qualities of a great glass of wine.
The exhibit, subtitled “from King Tut to Today” also reminded me of the great heritage all wine drinkers share, as wine has been an essential part of human culture for thousands of years. I was most interested to learn about the development of the different shapes of wine bottles, and to see examples of innovations in glass technology that make wine storage possible today.
If you happen to live near Chicago, or to be visiting anytime soon, the Art Institute and A Case for Wine are both well worth a visit!