Le banquet des Habsbourg, ou la
politique à table
Diane H. Bodart
An infuential occasion of community life, the banquet consolidates the cohesion of the social group. Its representation is thus not by accident at the origins of group portraiture in European modern painting, mainly but not only in the Netherlands. This essay analyses the correlation between banquet as scene of sociability and banquet as frame of group portraiture, focusing mainly on one picture, The banquet of the Habsburg. This painting represents apparenlty an “historical” dinner party, but gathers in fact members of the family who belong to three diferent generations. Proceeding to a close reading of the very concrete aspects of the subject, as the food and the beverages of the meal, the way the main table and the sideboard were set, the placing and the gestures of diners and servants, the issue is to examine how this material and gestual iconography may allow to precise the meaning and the aim of the political and dynastical networks displayed around the banquet table.