Vincent Van Gogh Still life with Mackerels Lemons Tomatoes

Vincent van Gogh, Still-Life with Mackerels, Lemons and Tomatoes, 1886
oil on canvas, 39 x 57cm, Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur

Vincent van Gogh‘s Still-Life with Mackerels, Lemons and Tomatoes was painted the year the artist moved from Antwerp, where he had very little to eat and no money, to Paris where he lived with his brother Theo. While living in Antwerp, he spent much of his time studying the work of Peter Paul Rubens – evidence of which can be found in the dark and moody palette of the Still-Life. Not much is know about van Gogh’s time in Paris because he was living with his brother and not writing to him. There were a number of still life paintings completed during the Paris years, most likely because in contrast to his Antwerp existence, he had food available to be used as a subject. The twisting brushstrokes of the fish are particularly striking as they suggest the movement of an otherwise inanimate subject.


Today is the 5 year birthday of this website! To celebrate, I am sharing my favourite cocktail recipe inspired by Vincent van Gogh. The mackerels depicted in his still life are a nod to the fish used in Worcestershire sauce which give the drink its savoury edge.

{The Ultimate Bloody Mary}

Yield: 1 serving

ice, enough to fill the bottom 1/3 of the glass
1 shot vodka, preferably chilled
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
1 cup tomato juice

garnishes can include, olives, stalks of celery, gherkins, pickled onions, slices of pepperoni

Fill a glass tumbler with ice so that the vessel can begin to chill. First add the vodka and then the remaining ingredients. Stir well and adjust to taste. I prefer my bloody mary spicy and so I tend to add extra tabasco as well extra Worcestershire sauce. Garnish with whatever is on hand, I prefer to use gherkins and olives.