Art and Alcohol

Ancient Egyptian, Relief of Ptahhotep before offering table at Necropolis (ca. 2400 BC)

For as long as there have been people, people have been drinking, and for as long as they’ve been drinking, they’ve been turning their rabble-rousing into art. Whether used for ceremonial offerings or as social lubricant, alcohol has provided ample inspiration to artists and intellectuals the world over.

In fact, the word “symposium” is derived from the ancient Greek sympinein, meaning “to drink together.” Every culture has some association with a spirit of revelry (Bacchus, the god of wine, is particularly prominent in Western art history). The case has also been made for alcohol to serve a medicinal purpose — an “antifogmatic” to clear the cobwebs from one’s brain.


Fernando Botero, Three Women Drinking (2006)
Peder Severin Kroyer, ‘Hip Hip Hurrah!’ Artists’ Party at Skagen (1888).


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