In Édouard Manet’s Bar de Folies-Bergere, the artist carries the audience away to a 19th century Music Hall in Paris with his Impressionist painting techniques. Developed during a period of exploration, Manet was embarking on a new approach to represent the subjects that he observed. From his choice of vibrant colors, to the application of them, he created an atmosphere of an Impressionist masterpiece.
To begin, the eye is immediately attracted to the contrast between the intense yellow and the vast white of the female figure in the foreground. This means of contrast has been adopted by the Impressionists in order to attract the eye of the viewer and to emphasize the beauty and warmth of the painting. Manet also utilizes the contrast in color to create a sense of depth through his placement of the musicians in the background. His application of thick and thin brush strokes further emphasize that contrast and provide further depth to the painting. Additionally, the use of broken brushstrokes reveals the lively atmosphere of the bar as well as the motion of the musicians. These shifts in color, texture and shape reflect the shift in modern thinking brought by Impressionism.
From the bright colors to applied paint, Manet reveals a more objective approach to capturing the emotion of a scene. He illustrates a certain atmosphere, instead of the faces, which allows the audience to feel connected to the painting. This was a significant step away from the traditional Classical approach of painting and emphasizes the individuality of the subject. By reinventing the painting process, Manet introduces the audience to a more personal and instantaneous view that goes beyond the precision of Classical illusionism.
The influence of Impressionism is clearly evident in the painting, but Manet did not stretch his scope so far as to go against conventional morality. Unlike popular Impressionist painters such as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir, Manet kept the painting, and its contents, all in good conscience. During this time, many of the themes depicted by other Impressionists were seen as being socially unacceptable. Bar de Folies-Bergere is an example of Manet’s talent in being able to explore the themes of disruption without going against modern expectations.
Through an Impressionist’s eye, Manet captured the atmosphere of 19th century Paris. Bar de Folies-Bergere exhibits all of the elements of Impressionism, from the application and color to the placement of subject matter. Through this painting, the artist manages to inject emotion and atmosphere into the scene, revealing his talent for conveying the feeling of a moment in time. Manet’s Impressionist choices demonstrate the artist’s skill in interpreting and representing a variety of scenes. His ability to interpret the scene and paint it with Impressionist elements allows the audience to experience the atmosphere as though we were there.