Thursday, April 29, 2021

Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’

From My Modern Met:

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère exemplifies Manet's not-quite-realist style. He renders the main figures, objects, and interior with expressive brushstrokes and close attention to the details. Each bottle of alcohol on the counter, for example, is presented with its distinct label and packaging. One of the beer bottles with a red triangle on the label has been identified as the brand Bass Pale Ale, which was founded in 1777 and still made today.

Like the majority of Manet's works, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is based on a real-life nightclub in Paris called the Folies-Bergère. In the late 19th century, this establishment was incredibly popular among artists as well as middle and upper-class Parisians for its array of entertainment including cabaret, ballet, and acrobatics to name a few.

Manet gives the viewer a peek into what goes on in the trendy music hall by featuring the legs of a performing trapeze artist in the upper left corner and a large crowd of onlookers in the reflection. Manet preferred to use real people as models for his paintings to make them more contemporary and naturalistic. The main female figure in this work is based on a barmaid named Suzon who worked at the Folies-Bergère in the 1880s. Beside one of her arms is a bowl of oranges, which suggests that she may have also been a sex worker—a subject that garnered Manet significant attention twenty years prior when he debuted Olympia. (Read more.)


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