Cuccagna Arch, 1629
Cuccagna Arch, 1629

Ornate edible architecture and sculptures were often created for celebrations in the cities and courts of early modern Europe. The Edible Monument, an exhibition of the ephemeral art created for these festivals, drew from sixteenth to nineteenth century books and prints in the Getty Research Institute's Special Collections.

The exhibition included towering sculptures and lavish food decorations that glorified the court of Louis XIV at Versailles and set a standard for ephemeral art throughout Europe; early cookbooks such as Juan de la Mata's Arte de Repostería (The art of confectionery), a classic manual published in 1747 on making desserts in the form of palaces, fortresses, and gardens; and a selection of Neapolitan prints of grandiose edible monuments in the form of triumphal arches, ancient ruins, obelisks, fountains, and even fireworks.

The seventy-five objects from the exhibition may be viewed by selecting the exhibition checklist link to the left. Additional information on some of the objects may be found by clicking on either Banquets, Cookbooks and Table Settings, The Art of Decorative Desserts, or Street Festivals.


The Edible Monument was on display at the Getty Research Institute Gallery from February 26 through May 21, 2000.

Click here to see the Edible Monument Opening Reception Photo Gallery.

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