Week 20: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Edouard Manet Part 2

"At the Bar of the Folies Bergere," 1882, Courtauld Institute, London
“At the Bar of the Folies Bergere,” 1882, Courtauld Institute, London


A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (French: Un bar aux Folies Bergère), painted and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882, is considered the last major work of French painter Édouard Manet. It depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris. The painting originally belonged to the composer Emmanuel Chabrier, who was Manet’s neighbor. Chabrier hung it over his piano. The painting exemplifies Manet’s commitment to Realism in its detailed representation of a contemporary scene. Many features have puzzled critics but almost all of them have been shown to have a rationale, and the painting has been the subject of numerous popular and scholarly articles. The central figure stands before a mirror, although critics—accusing Manet of ignorance of perspective and alleging various impossibilities in the painting—have debated this point since the earliest reviews were published. In 2000, however, a photograph taken from a suitable point of view of a staged reconstruction was shown to reproduce the scene as painted by Manet. According to this reconstruction, “the conversation that many have assumed was transpiring between the barmaid and gentleman is revealed to be an optical trick—the man stands outside the painter’s field of vision, to the left, and looks away from the barmaid, rather than standing right in front of her.” As it appears, the observer should be standing to the right and closer to the bar than the man whose reflection appears at the right edge of the picture. This is an unusual departure from the central point of view usually assumed when viewing pictures drawn according to perspective. (Wikipedia)