L’Absinthe is a painting that Edgar Degas created in 1876, depicting two individuals, Marcellin Desboutin and Ellen Andree, sitting at the Nouvelle-Athens Cafe in Paris. The artwork was first displayed at the Second Impressionist exhibition in 1876, where it received criticism from art critics. One notable aspect of the painting is its off-centre framing, inspired by Japanese prints, which causes a drunken slewing effect.
The painting embodies a sense of social isolation during the rapid growth of Paris at that time. It portrays two lonely individuals sitting comically far apart from each other, both looking disheartened and introverted. The painting’s composition and tone deviated significantly from the typical art of the day, with a darkness and sombreness that was not celebrated by traditional art critics.