Book by William Paterson University Art Professor Claudia Goldstein Wins Award from University of Amsterdam

Goldstein, an associate professor of art history, has been awarded the Joop Witteveen Prize

Claudia Goldstein

Claudia Goldstein, an associate professor of art history at William Paterson University in Wayne, has been awarded the Joop Witteveen Prize for her book, Pieter Bruegel and the Culture of the Early Modern Dinner Party.  The prize, given by the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is awarded annually to the author of an outstanding publication on the history of food.

In her book, Goldstein explores the emergence of the dinner party in Artwerp in the Netherlands in the mid-sixteenth century.  She examines the functions and material culture of the Antwerp dinner party during a period when the city’s art market was thriving and a new wealthy, non-noble class dominated the city.  “Lacking in landed titles and other trappings of nobility, this class used its belongings – particularly houses and the luxury goods within them, as a means of constructing identity,” she writes.

The dining room—a new concept in the sixteenth century—was the place to exhibit such wealth, including paintings, table linens, crystal, and dinnerware.  Paintings, especially, added to the festive atmosphere, which required excellent food and drink and entertainment, and marked one’s social status. “To own a painting by Pieter Bruegel, among the important artists of the day, was to be at the top of the money scale,” Goldstein explains.

Goldstein drew on a rich collection of sources, including paintings, personal correspondence, household inventories, and literature, especially table plays written to be performed in a dining room.  In particular, she focuses on Jan Noirot, master of the Antwerp Mint and owner of a substantial art collection, who declared bankruptcy in 1572 and fled, leaving his family to sell their possessions.

“Noirot’s dramatic case offers one of the few written accounts of a house and specific room in which Bruegel’s paintings were displayed, and it reinforces the centrality of the dinner party in establishing and maintaining one’s elite reputation in Antwerp,” she explains.  “Even as the family ran out of money, the Bruegel paintings remained on the walls.”

A member of the William Paterson faculty since 2002, Goldstein has won numerous awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Belgium for her dissertation research.  A graduate of Bates College, she earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a doctorate from Columbia University.  She is a resident of New Paltz, New York.