Sunday, November 17, 2013

Creole Kitchen, A early 19th century New Orleans kitchen

"Creole Kitchen" 20x16 acrylic on canvas by Andrew LaMar Hopkins

"Creole Kitchen" my latest finished painting is the forth in a series of Louisiana Creole kitchen paintings. Each painting has sold before I was finished painting it. I complected this painting yesterday and sold it a few hours later at the Frenchman Street art Market here in New Orleans Louisiana. I' surprised to find out that my customers, collectors are getting younger and younger. The lucky new owner lives in Brooklyn New York, and I would say he was in his mid 20's.  He has been added to the list of young gentleman collectors of my art  in there early to mid 20 that have great taste at a young age. 

The first Creole kitchen painting was a commission from a friend and they have blossomed from since. I was a little hesitant to paint the first kitchen painting as I did not consider the kitchen a fine room of a house like my parlor or bedroom paintings. But once I started painting them. I have really got into the thyme, each new kitchen painting is better then the other.  The kitchen is a room that just about everyone can relate too.  18th and 19th century kitchens were fascinating room filled with interesting cooking apparatus. If you would like to follow the progression of my artwork and these paintings please visit and like my facebook page 

This painting shows a New Orleans Creole kitchen from about the period of 1820. Centered around a open hearth fireplace for cooking. Inside of the fireplace we have copper and cast iron kettles and pots simmering with Creole delectable's! On the mantel shelf we have a to the left a 18th century panetiere an ornate French-provincial bread box for bread storage. A pair of Lavender Hurricane globes with brass candlesticks inside of them. A mahogany Louis Philippe shelf clock and palmetto fan. A black lacquer crucifix and a crockery pottery water cistern that is Cobalt paint decorated. Over the mantel is a copy of Italian artist 1708-1787 Pompeo Batoni's Sacred Heart of Jesus in a gold leaf Thomas Sully frame. 

Pompeo Batoni's Sacred Heart of Jesus 1767

18th century French panetiere 

18th century handpainted tiles of a hanging birdcage 

On the left side of the painting a Servant carries a basket of fresh eggs and live chickens from the court yard have walked into the Creole Kitchen. Behind the Servant is a cypress platform with  copper-ware and pottery. The Shelf about holds porcelain Mocha decorated pottery known as Mochaware and Chinese export blue and white porcelain. 

A collection of copper pots and pans hang on the wall of the kitchen. I large hand colored engraving of watermelons hang over Pompeo Batoni's Sacred Heart of Jesus, and a hand colored engraving of peaches over the pot's 

A Black walnut 18th century early Louisiana armoire is used for more storage in the kitchen. The armoire has a beautiful inlay Mammogram at the top and shield shaped ivory escutcheons. It holds on top a wood Doughboy and French green wine bottle.   

 18th century early Louisiana Creole armoire with cut decorative skirt on cabriole legs 

18th century early Louisiana Creole armoire with cut decorative skirt on cabriole legs 

18th century early Louisiana Creole armoire with cut decorative skirt on cabriole legs 

Over the armoire are servant call bells. The early 19th century invention of the bell pull, a complicated system of wires and chains within ceiling and wall cavities, meant a servant could be summoned from a greater distance in the house. Some homes had elaborate bell systems. All sizes of bells with different tones to mark which room the servant was being called to, was needed . Some systems had numbered bells and the number was connected to a certain room. Some systems were marked  with a name such as,"parlor."Two types of metal. iron and copper were used in the making of the bells so each bell could make a certain sound. Each servant had  to learn the different sounds and what room they applied to. The bells were usually located in the kitchen where most of the servants would be, until needed. A wire pulley system went through the walls and  when the bell pull was pulled, a bell would ring. 

The window over the platform had a "Toile de Jouy" curtain valance cut to match the ornate skirts of early Louisiana Armoires. A 18th century birdcage hangs from the beamed ceiling with two blue jays inside.   

We have a butter churn to the right of the seated lady and a unique piece of furniture called a "Sugar Chest". Antique furniture are not just beautiful objects to be admired. They often tell part a interesting story of how life was lived in the past. The sugar chest -- a large wooden box, sometimes on a floor-standing base -- was a popular furniture form unique to the Southern United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fancy desserts, which took time to make and used expensive ingredients, were featured at dinner parties. They gave added prestige to the party-giver. Desserts were sweet, and sugar was the best and most expensive sweetener. It was a luxury product used only by the wealthy. The less-affluent used honey, molasses or maple syrup.

Braking the sugar with a hammer and then cutting the sugar loaf with sugar nips 

Most of the sugar used in North America in the 19th century was imported from the West Indies and locally here in Louisiana . The sugar was processed in cone-shaped clay molds that removed the syrup from the raw sugar and made loafs of sugar crystals. The housewife bought the expensive cone or loaf and carefully cut it into lumps.

The processing of sugar changed in the 1850s, and the new methods made sugar inexpensive enough for most Americans. The sugar chest had been used to store the expensive sugar cones and the metal nipper's used to cut them. The locked chest, which protected the sugar from insects and theft, was not needed when sugar became plentiful. 

Cobalt decorated stoneware

Cobalt decorated stoneware

Cobalt decorated stoneware

Cobalt decorated stoneware

On the cypress tapered leg table we have a bountiful of fresh vegetables, sweet potatoes, collard greens. cabbage, eggplant, tomato corn and a feather edged cremeware platter of porkchops.    

Early Louisiana cypress tapered leg table 

A handcolored engraving of a pineapple hangs in a gold frame over the beehive stove. 

To the right next to the armoier is a beehive oven. This type of oven has been in use since the Middle Ages in Europe. It gets its name from its domed shape, which resembles that of an old-fashioned beehive. Its apex of popularity occurred in the Americas and Europe all the way until the Industrial Revolution. Beehive ovens were common in households used for baking pies, cakes and meat. To cook in a beehive over you had to start a fire with candle wax wrapped in paper, dry kindling (twigs, small sticks, and/or wood chips), and pine cones, a small fire was made toward the front of the oven. As the fire caught, more kindling was added to produce a thick smoke, which coated the oven with black soot. The fire was then pushed back into the middle of the oven with a hoe. More wood would be added until there was a good, hot fire. After all of these steps were taken, the food would be prepared for baking .

The beehive oven typically took two to three hours to heat, occasionally even four hours in the winter. Breads were baked first when the beehive oven was hottest, with other baked items such as cinnamon buns, cakes, and pies. As the oven cooled, muffins and “biscuits” could be baked, along with puddings and custards. After a day’s baking there was typically sufficient heat to dry apples and other fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Pots of beans were often placed in the back of the oven to cook slowly overnight. 

In the thirteen colonies, most households had a beehive oven. Bread was usually baked in it once a week, often in conjunction with pies, crackers, or other baked goods. To heat the oven, the baker would heap coals and kindling inside and wait several hours. Requiring strict regulation, the right amount of wood to ash had to be burned and then tested by sticking one's hands inside. Then one had to add more wood or open the door to let it cool to the right temperature.

"Creole Kitchen" 20x16 acrylic on canvas by Andrew LaMar Hopkins

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