Édouard Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergeres” was completed in 1881 and 1882, and is acknowledged today to be his last major work. It is an important piece of art that depicts a scene at the Folies Bergere nightclub in Paris, currently residing in The Courtauld Gallery. Manet unexpectedly decided to pursue painting as his career rather than fulfilling his parents’ wishes of him becoming a naval officer; although he studied at the Naval Academy, in order to appease his father.
“A Bar at the Folies-Bergeres” provides insight into Manet’s creative genius as it puts layers of meanings and symbols within the medium – such as a sense of alienation due to the reflection that sees both viewer and hostess, eye-focused contact suggesting mutual mistrust or perhaps confusion through uncertain identity. This painting captures a complex array of strong human emotions and speaks culturally on multiple levels.
Manet’s ability to capture moments like this with such accuracy has made him one of the most famous painters in history; His work “A Bar at the Folies-Bergeres” excellent encapsulates all that makes Manet an outstanding artist worthy of further exploration and admiration. In particular, it offers audiences a unique opportunity to explore not only Manet’s technical mastery, but also some of the cultural complexities which form part of his themes.