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A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

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The Café-Concert

Around 1840 a new form of café appeared in Paris, in which singers and musicians provided a topical, vernacular form of entertainment. The new boulevards of Haussmann, the Prefect of the Seine, built in the 1850s and 60s provided a perfect environment in which the café concerts could flourish. And when, in 1867, Camille Doucet, the superintendant of the theatres, authorised the café-concerts "to use costumes, to perform plays, and to treat themselves to dance and acrobatic acts", the French looked to the Alhambra in London as a model for the way forward. The café concerts developed into full blown palaces of pleasure, such as the Eldorado, the Alcazar d'Ete, the Ambassadeurs, the Folies-Bergère, the Moulin Rouge, the Casino de Paris, and the Olympia.

Popular singers like Thérésa, Bécat, and Demay, all of whom Degas painted in the 1870s, were among the leading celebrities of the day.

"the true significance of all these cafés [was] that they corresponded to the state of mind of an entire generation..."
J.K. Huysmans, A Rebours, 1884

WPW
Ref: Manet and Modern Paris, Chicago 1983

Alan Weill, 100 Years of Posters of the Folies Bergère and Music Halls of Paris, Hart-Davis, MacGibbon Ltd, London 1977

Haussmann
Huysmans

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Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando, 1879

Edgar Degas, Pastel on paper, Presented by Samuel Courtauld 1933, (Tate)

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At the Café Châteaudun, c.1869-71

Degas (National Gallery, London)

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Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando, 1879

Degas (National Gallery, London)

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