An Artistic Feast Inspired by Impressionism

By Stephanie Blaser

When it comes to cooking, inspiration can come in many forms. And what better form can we look to than art, which is itself a feast for the senses? Today, we are turning to still-life paintings from two 19th Century friends and founders of the Impressionist style – Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir – for our culinary inspiration.

This is the first of two posts written by friends of THATMuse about recipes inspired by art! Want the next post direct to your inbox? Sign up to our mailing list!

1. The Main Course: Fish in Foil, Inspired by Édouard Manet’s Fish (Still Life)

Fish (Still Life), 1864, Édouard Manet, Art Institute of Chicago

The Painting

Though not one of Manet’s most famous works, this painting is a good representation of the artist’s interest in the still life genre. During the early 1860s, the interest in nature morte  (‘dead nature’, as the French say) as a genre was waning, due in large part to a growing middle class, with different tastes. However, Manet’s still lifes are anything but morte, with the vigorous brushstrokes and diagonal placement of the carp making this one appear full of movement. Unlike his more famous works, Manet never submitted still lifes to the Paris Salon, but instead sold them to independent galleries or gave them away to friends.

The Recipe


8 ounces of thick, firm white fish per portion (Black Sea bass, cod, or halibut are great choices)

  • 1 bulb fennel – thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots – cut into matchsticks
  • 1 shallot – diced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro (optional)


  1. Sautée carrots and fennel in olive oil 3-5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add shallot and continue sautéeing 2 more minutes. Transfer ½ cup of the vegetable mixture to the center of a large piece of cooking foil.
  2. Place a portion of fish on top of the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a pat of butter, uncooked fennel fronds, two slices of lemon, and a sprig of cilantro (optional).
  3. Fold cooking foil to create a tight seal around the fish. Place pouches on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 20-22 minutes.
  4. Cut cooking foil to release steam. Then carefully remove fish and vegetables from the foil. Serve over rice.
Fruits of the Midi, 1881, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Art Institute of Chicago

2. On the Side: Roasted Vegetable Medley, Inspired by Fruits of the Midi by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Painting

One of the fathers of the Impressionism movement, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is most famous for works such as Dance at Le Moulin de Galette, depicting quick snapshots of life, full of energy and movement. However, as this painting shows, he was also skilled at still lifes, injecting them with vibrant light and saturated color. Aren’t these delicious-looking summer vegetables just crying out to be roasted?

The Recipe


  • 1 eggplant (aubergine) – cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 onion – remove outer skin, cut in half, then cut into 1-inch slice
  • 1 zucchini (courgette) – cut into 1-inch thick rounds
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper – remove seeds and inner membranes, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 tomato – cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ C. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ Tsp. dry basil (optional)
  • ¼ Tsp. dry rosemary, crushed (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
  2. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add basil and rosemary, if desired.
  3. Roast uncovered for 20-25 minutes, turning once.

So there you have it! An artistic feast, inspired by Impressionist art.

Hungry for dessert? Well, you’ll just have to keep an eye on the blog…

Chicago residents Stephanie and her husband John are foodies who love both making divine dishes they share on Facebook to travelling for world-renowned restaurants… So it should be of no surprise that when they came across THATLou they chose our Food & Wine hunt, which we built for both foodies travelling to Paris as well as for the American contingent of expats who were tuning into their Thanksgiving roots in November.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: