Pancake Day

It’s here. The tastiest, most delicious celebration of the year.

Pancake Day.

Also named ‘Mardi Gras,’ ‘Fat Tuesday,’ and ‘Shrove Tuesday,’ this celebration happens the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As well as reminding us all once a year how much we love pancakes (before we promptly forget they exist until next year), it is intended to use all the food in the cupboards before we embark upon the traditionally penitent period of self-denial.

Carnival at Algeciras, Sir Alfred East, ca. 1870-1910. Museum no. P.7-1918. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This vibrant image of a Spanish carnival encapsulates the lent-preceding celebrations of Mardi Gras perfectly. The carnival period, predominantly celebrated in Catholic countries, begins on or before Epiphany, and culminates on Shrove Tuesday. The variety of bright colours outside the church marries the celebratory and religious elements of Mardi Gras perfectly, creating a beautiful painting.

The Pancake Woman, Willem van Mieris, between 1710 and 1719. Museum no. 186-1894. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Now for the day itself! This painting is named ‘The Pancake Woman.’ An elderly lady sits on her chair flipping little fluffy circles of goodness whilst the little boy eats them as quickly as possible, in a way that will remind many of pancake eating competitions with their siblings!

The Ornamental Tree, Charles Francis Annesley, ca. 1875-1925. Museum no. E. 270-1913. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The little boy in the picture above doesn’t seem to fussy about the toppings on his pancakes. Unlike him, I am very fussy. For a sweet one, I like the classic lemon and sugar. The lemons on this tile design look ripe for picking and squeezing over your pancakes.

Photograph, Francis Frith, ca. 1850-1870. Museum no. E.208:2804-1994. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This photograph, taken by Francis Frith, shows a sugar mill at Shergarh in Punjab, Pakistan. Although usually associated with the Caribbean, sugar production is an important industry in Pakistan, and has been for many years, with over 1 million hectares in Pakistan being dedicated to sugar production.

Entrance to Ham Street from Ham Common; Ham Street, Ham Common – the Beginning; Recording Britain, John Sanderson Wells, ca. 1940. Museum no. E.2226-1949. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. / Souvenir De La Commune Par Léonce Schérer; Le fédéré – Rien que de lard cru et mince de Gruyère, Léonce Schérer, 1871. Museum no. E. 1792-1936. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

You may like something a little more savoury on your pancake. These two images create the perfect flavour combination of ham and cheese. The drawing on the left shows the entrance to Ham Street, from Ham Common, in Ham, in the Borough of Richmond Upon Thames. It is part of the Recording Britain series, launched by the government in the 1940’s, which employed artists to record the Home Front in Britain, during the war.  The lithograph on the left, depicts a soldier gesturing towards a huge wheel of Gruyere cheese, making his pancake-related feelings well known!

If you have enjoyed this post, and would like to uncover some more pancake related objects in the collection, please do come and see us in the Prints & Drawings Study Room. Happy Pancake Day!

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