A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

By Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet’s last painting.

By Édouard Manet
A Bar at the Folies By Édouard Manet Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Édouard Manet’s last painting was A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, completed in 1882, a year before his death.

Édouard Manet’s painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, depicts a bustling bar scene in Paris during the late 19th century. The painting is known for its intricate detail and use of light and shadow to create depth and realism.

The central figure in the painting is a young woman who stands behind the bar, surrounded by bottles and glasses. She appears to be looking directly at the viewer, but her expression is difficult to read. The reflection of a man in the mirror behind her suggests that she is interacting with a customer, but her body language is guarded and distant.

The background of the painting is filled with other patrons of the bar, including a couple dancing and a group of men playing cards. The scene is lively and energetic, but the woman behind the bar seems detached from it all. Manet’s use of light and shadow creates a sense of depth and movement, drawing the viewer’s eye around the painting and highlighting the different elements of the scene.

The Folies-Bergère, in 1872, and became a popular entertainment venue in Paris. Édouard Manet frequently visited the establishment with his friends and created sketches on site. The final painting of the barmaid named Suzon, however was completed in his studio. Suzon posed for Manet during the creation of the artwork.

Despite being painted in the studio, Manet’s work captured the essence of the Folies-Bergère and its lively atmosphere. The painting is a testament to the popularity of the venue during its time and the impact it had on the Parisian entertainment scene.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

19 thoughts on “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

  1. I know this fantastic painting. LOVE it!
    So much to understand. The thing about light is a a bit 🙄 evasive for me.
    This is why my drawings are…. what they are, on the graphic side. Nonetheless, I shall draw!
    Now, to view the video!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand that A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is considered one of Édouard Manet’s greatest paintings. He has captured in this painting a commentary on the social and economic changes taking place in Paris at the time. I know you will enjoy the video, Resa. Sending many thanks for joining me at the Folies-Bergère

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Manet lived through the advent of photography, so photojournalism was barely a thought. We are fortunate to have had artists leave us images of life & times.
        NOW, “A German photographer has turned down a prestigious prize after revealing that his winning photograph was created using artificial intelligence.”
        His name is Boris Eldagsen. Did you read the stories?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I have been following that story with interest, Resa. In an article in The Guardian on April 18, 2023 by Zoe William, Boris Eldagsen was quoted “It was always a collaboration. I’ve been working in teams with artist friends for 25 years….I don’t see it as a threat to creativity. For me, it really is setting me free. All the boundaries I had in the past – material boundaries, budgets – no longer matter. And for the first time in history, the older generation has an advantage, because AI is a knowledge accelerator. Two thirds of the prompts are only good if you have knowledge and skills, when you know how photography works, when you know art history. This is something that a 20-year-old can’t do.”https://amp.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2023/apr/18/ai-threat-boris-eldagsen-fake-photo-duped-sony-judges-hits-back

        Here is the question we must all ask ourselves as we encounter AI: Will we be like those people who rejected Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, simply because they did not understand something new? That is why I am following technological evolution very closely. I enjoy our conversations! Thank you!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I am following closely, too.
        Who knows which way the wind will blow?
        AI will prove beneficial, fun, medically advantageous and many things in the hands of decent people.
        The challenge here is that “there are many here among us who feel the life is but a joke”.
        Will they use it for selfish or evil endeavours?

        I understand about the impressionist’s being poo-pooed.
        Still, it was difficult to highjack what the Impressionists did for pure bad. You needed talent.

        AI will have the learned talent (knowledge accelerator)…. in a sense… and the minds of many will manipulate it.

        We can hope all will embrace the good.
        However, I for one am cynical on that point.

        Yes, I also enjoy our conversations.
        Wish I could be a fly on a wall in 2075.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Oh, to be a fly – that would be amazing, Resa!! One thing I know for certain – you will always embrace the good. My hope is that we inspire each other in these complex and ever changing mercurial times to be a force for good, for integrity, for honour and compassion.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Robbie. Perhaps that was the genius of Manet – he was able to capture ambiguity in her expression, which demanded a higher participation from the viewer. Everyone seems to have a different opinion seen through the lens of personal experience. Thank you for joining me at the Folies-Bergere.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Liz. I have viewed this painting several times over the years and have experienced the feeling of loneliness. It is a bleak and melancholic scene. The young women with a forced smile on her face, stands behind the counter, surrounded by bottles and glasses. The reflection in the mirror behind her shows a man speaking to her, but his face is not visible. There is a sense of loneliness and detachment, as if the barmaid is merely a commodity in the bustling atmosphere of the bar. Manet has captured a scene that could be encounter in every age. In his last painting, he has made a profound statement.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Sylvia – there is something very modern about this painting. I read that while Manet did paint from real life, his paintings were not always an accurate representation of reality. He often distorted or simplified his subjects to create a certain effect. I am delighted that you enjoyed the video!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t know it was his last painting until I did my research behind the painting. I find that when I look at one painting at a time, I gain a greater understanding of the artist. It is so easy to be overwhelmed where there is so much stimuli.

      Édouard Manet’s unique style bridged the gap between traditional academic art and the emerging impressionist movement. Can you imagine the response to his use of bold brushstrokes, flattened perspective, and unconventional subject matter? He challenged the norms of his time and paved the way for modern art. It seems that we have difficulty embracing new concepts. So now, when I look at modern art that may not engage me, I pause and take another look.

      Liked by 2 people

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