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It may be hard to believe, but when Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” first premiered in 1946, war-weary movie-goers, eager for more upbeat entertainment, didn’t fall for it — even though the film received five Oscar nominations. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when television revived the old black-and-white flick, that countless folks embraced George Bailey.
Long before we started snapping restaurant dishes and posting on social media — and more than a hundred years before the artful photographs of Nathan Myhrvold’s “Modernist Cuisine” set a new standard in food photography — what and how people ate figured as a rich focus for American painters.