Saturday, March 3, 2007


Painted in 1876 by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) , L'Absinthe depicts a woman and a man who sit in the typical Parisian bistro. The man, wearing a hat, looks right, off the canvas, while the woman, dressed formally and also wearing a hat, stares vacantly downward. A glass filled with the titular greenish liquid sits before her.

The painting is a representation of the increasing social isolation in Paris during its stage of rapid growth. Degas denounces the alcoholism of the French society. Nothing has really changed nowadays but nobody is interested any more in painting this sort of scene.

Edgar De Gas -he dropped the particule to adopt a more Republican Degas name- was born in Paris and is famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist.

In 1892, this picture went at an auction for 150 Pounds in London where it sparks controversy. The persons represented in the painting were considered by English critics to be shockingly degraded and uncouth. Many regarded the painting as a French blow to morality. The Irish novelist George Moore described the woman in the painting as a "whore"!

It is now part of the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.

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