Jehan Georges Vibert
Jehan Georges Vibert is best known for his satirical depictions of ecclesiastical life. The Marvelous Sauce—a perennial favorite of museum visitors—portrays a Cardinal-turned-cook who astonishes a chef with his culinary endeavors. The Cardinal is recognizable from his distinctive scarlet regalia, but an apron partially sheaths it. Vibert often used such vibrant reds in his compositions to give them a sense of veracity. The wealth of the household and its owner, the Cardinal, is reflected in the large iron stove to the right, which is covered by a decorative hood with an aristocratic coat of arms, as well as the kitchen’s numerous brass cooking pots, abundance of food, and its elaborate, patterned floor. When considered in a broader historical context, the cheerfulness with a hint of cunning revealed in Vibert’s characters distinguishes his work as part of a growing democratization of France. This painting was created during a time when artists and writers alike sought to expose government corruption and the hypocrisies of upper-level clergy members, many of whom lived rather opulent lifestyles.