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Beth Lipman's Bancketje (Banquet) (2003)

Beth Lipman

Beth Lipman's tour-de-force glass sculpture Bancketje (Banquet) (2003) is a 20-foot-long oak table laden with 400 blown and lampworked glass objects. This piece captures the visual sumptuousness and excess of a feast like the ones depicted in 17th-century Dutch still-life paintings called "bancketje." Like these elaborate scenes, Lipman's half-eaten morsels, overturned goblets and snuffed candles symbolically depict the transience of life. By rendering the scene in transparent glass and skillfully blending the various components, Lipman demands that the piece be seen as a whole, not an assemblage of individual objects.

Beth Lipman is renowned for her sculptural compositions which re-interpret Renaissance and Baroque still-life paintings from Holland, Flanders and Italy, as well as from 18th- and 19th-century America. Lipman takes elements from these paintings-static composition, expressive light and opulent decoration-and translates the scenes into three-dimensions. Bancketje (Banquet) is on display in the permanent collection galleries at the museum's Renwick Gallery beginning August 4, 2007.

Beth Lipman, Bancketje (Banquet), 2003, hand-sculpted, blown, kiln-formed and lampworked glass with gold paint, oak, oil and mixed media, 67 x 50 x 240 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the James Renwick Alliance. Photo by Mildred Baldwin.