Breakfast time – 2 May 2022

The details in this picture are worthy of attention. A table is being set for breakfast by a maid under the dappled shade of a tree. There are three settings, two match, the third (on the right) is different. There is a sense of plenty as the teapot and kettle are huge. There is bread under a glass cloche. By one place there is a single cut rose in a glass of water. Is this a special day for someone, or is this care simply about devotion and love?

The picture has a wonderful sense of depth running from the bottom right to the top left. Our gaze moves from the partial side view of a bench, opens out to take in the full width of the table and two chairs, then narrows as we look past the servant and up the path. This movement invites us in, to come and sit and eat, wondering who will join us at table.

The picture is about hospitality and the things that enable human meeting. As this is breakfast, the blessing of the community experienced through this meal will continue into the day. This is an appropriate painting for Easter Season, where the resurrection stories take us to tables and beaches where meals are shared. New life, and continuing life, are experienced through eating with others.

This painting ‘Frukostdags’ (Breakfast time, 1887) is by Hanna Hirsch-Pauli. Now one of the most loved pictures in the Nationalmusuem in Stockholm, it was much criticised when first shown for the manner of its execution. Hanna painted in an impressionist style, with brushwork that captured the liveliness of light on fixed objects.

 

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus…. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread….  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

John 21: 4, 9, 12

 

And there are the poems for breakfast –
favourites left out on the long glass table
by one to the other the night before.
We take turns to place them there
bent open with the pepper pot,
marmalade jar, a sugar bowl –
the weight of kitchen things.
Secret gifts to wake up with,
rhythms to last the whole day long,
surprises that net the cat, the dog,
these day that we wake together in –
our door forever opening.

Enda Wyley, from: Poems for Breakfast