A Bar at the Folies-Bergere

BY: EDOUARD MANET - Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England

Date: 1882
Original Medium: Oil on canvas
Original Size: 37.8 x 51.2 in.

The Folies-Bergere was the most popular cabaret and music hall in Paris. It opened in 1869 and was described as having an atmosphere of "unmixed joy." Despite the liveliness of it, the woman at the center of this piece seems vacant and isolated. The bar in front of her cuts her off from the bustling space, which can be seen in the mirror in the background, around her; in the sea of people she seems quite alone. Manet was familiar with the Folies-Bergere and spent time there making a number of preparatory sketches before finally beginning the painting in his studio with one of the barmaids Suzon as his model. This was Manet's last major work and was first exhibited in 1882 at the Paris Salon and spark much debate because of the odd reflection in the right side of the composition, and Suzon's unsettling expression.