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A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

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The sketch for 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère'

Scholar Novelene Ross has pointed out that, already in the sketch for "a bar", Manet had contemplated distorting "reality".

"...the loge represented in Manet's bar mirror was not actually visible from the given point of view. The bars were located in mirrored alcoves in an artificial garden area on the Folies ground floor. Standing in the middle of this garden one could look through a large entryway into the grande sale or theatre arena. A double staircase framed the entryway and led up to the second level to a promenoir behind the loge seating. In order to get a frontal view of the upper loge in the central theatre area with its large ceiling chandeliers - that distant view reflected in Manet's mirror image - one could not be facing the bar mirror. Thus the composition of the oil sketch represents a deliberate distortion of optical experience , at least to the extent that the painted image encompasses more than could be comprehended in a single glance."

Novelene Ross, Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergère And the Myths of Popular Illustration, Bowker, Epping, 1982

Mirrors: The Place of Realism
Looking forward and seeing backwards
Mirrors: Las Meninas
What is the barmaid looking at?

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Study for A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881

Manet (Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam)

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