A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGÈRE BY MANET: DESCRIPTION, ANALYSIS AND CURIOUS FACTS
What is the barmaid depicted in the painting A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet thinking about and what is she really looking at in front of her?
Questions that I often ask myself when looking at the last great masterpiece by Manet.
A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet was the last painting Manet exhibited at the Paris Salon, in 1882. It was certainly the last major painting the artist did, and it is considered to be his artistic testament.
In this post you’ll find the analysis, description and some curious facts about the painting.
A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet
DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF THE PAINTING A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGÈRE BY MANET
The Parisian location, the balanced use of black, the presence of an amazing still life and the absolutely perfect composition.
These are the features of A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet, his last major painting and his artistic testament.
This canvas, did between 1881 and 1882, has all features of Manet’s painting. In particular, his ability to represent psychology of characters he portrayed that, in this work, is a game of mirrors between barmaid’s eyes, who seems to be waiting for something and us, the viewers.
MEANING OF A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGÈRE BY MANET
At first glance A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet seems to be a description of a scene of ordinary life inside a public place.
The barmaid, with a melancholy and tired look, seems to be deep in thoughts and looking at us, who are observing her trying to interpret her thoughts. Actually, we can glimpse, thanks to the mirror at her back, the crowded bar and full of clients.
However, looking more closely, on the right we notice the reflection of a man wearing a top hat in the mirror.
The reference to the game of mirrors recalls another masterpiece where reality is not what appears. It’s Las Meninas by Velàzquez that Manet knew well because the artist devoted his life to art but also to in-depth study of masters of Spanish art of the 17th century as well as masters of Italian Renaissance.
However, the girl’s gaze hides a melancholy that makes that place, that crowded Parisian café-concert, appear what it really is: a place full of smoke, small talks and laughters.
CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGÈRE BY MANET
By observing this painting I immediately ask myself whether the artist invented the scene or drew inspiration from a real place. Actually, A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet really existed.
It was a well-known café-concert in Paris in the second half of the 19th century, frequented by a multitude of people each night, a place of entertainment and social life for the city.
Manet depicted on the marble counter top some champagne and beer bottles, some tangerines on a cakestand in a composition that alone is a wonderful still life, and two roses in a glass.
Manet’s signature is on the red bottle on the left.
The barmaid portrayed by Manet was named Suzon and posed also for other paintings.