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“A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” by Édouard Manet

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

“A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” by Édouard Manet depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris. This painting shows Manet’s commitment to Realism in its detailed portrayal of a contemporary scene even though he has experimented with perspective and points of view.

The central figure of the barmaid stands before a mirror, facing the gentleman we can see in the reflection on the right. In the mirror’s reflection, we can see the world the barmaid surveys in front of her. In the mirror reflection, she seems engaged with a customer, whoever in full face, she appears protectively withdrawn and remote.

The painting is rich in details which give many clues to social class and the era portrayed. The woman at the bar was a real person, known as Suzon, who worked at the Folies-Bergère in the early 1880s. The inclusion of a dish of oranges in the bar suggests that the barmaid is also a prostitute as Manet typically associated oranges with this suggestion in his paintings. Other details of note include the pair of green feet in the upper left-hand corner, which belong to a trapeze artist who is performing above the restaurant’s patrons.

Édouard Manet was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life and was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. His early masterpieces, about 20 years earlier than this painting, caused much controversy and served as an influence for the young painters who would create Impressionism. In the last two decades of Manet’s life, he develops his style that served as a significant influence on future painters.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

  • Title:                       A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
  • Français:              Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère
  • Deutsch:                Bar in den Folies-Bergère
  • Español:                Un Bar en el Folies-Bergère
  • Artist:                    Édouard Manet
  • Medium:               Oil on canvas
  • Date:                      1882
  • Dimensions:        96 × 130 cm (37.8 × 51.2 in)
  • Museum:             Courtauld Gallery

Édouard Manet


“One who fears to suffer,
suffers from fear.”

– French Proverb


Photo Credit: Édouard Manet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons