​Édouard Manet - Bar at the Folies-BergèreOil on canvas, 1882,, 96 cm × 130 cm, Courtauld Institute of Art in London

What would you like to drink?


Picture description and interpretation of the famous painting'Bar in den Folies-Bergère' by Édouard Manet!

Édouard Manet - Bar at the Folies-Bergère

You know what this is? You don't really want to go out again - and suddenly you find yourself at a bar and order one drink after another? Maybe it's the beautiful barmaid Suzon's fault. Like the other ladies in the famous Parisian scene restaurant in Folies-Bergère, Suzon may be available for one or two more pleasures.

But stop! There are some things about this situation that irritate us. Behind Suzon is a huge mirror that reveals some inconsistencies. We thought she was talking to us? Now, however, we see that she is talking to a man with a top hat on the right. She bends over to him invitingly - for us she has only one bored look left. Wouldn't the bottles have to stand somewhere else if they were mirrored realistically? Why don't the objects cast shadows? In the mirror the girl seems to have much more space behind the bar - in reality the golden frame signals that in a few centimetres behind her the wall begins.

An occupation with this painting culminates in the question - are these inconsistencies due to the inability of the painter or does the composition skillfully subordinate itself to the claim of aesthetic perception?

The choice of offering an insight into the bar spectacle through the large-format mirror may not always correspond to the natural laws of perspective, but it does show quite amusing motifs: for example, the legs of an athlete still stick out into the picture at the top left, apparently performing some tricks on the trapeze. The lady underneath has pulled out her binoculars and is watching them excitedly.

This painting can be described as Manet's "work of old age". It arose in the last two years before his early death at 51, due to an early, untreated syphilis infection.

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka