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Absinthe, Oil on Canvas, 1876
French Artist, Edgar Degas (1834-1917), said that "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."
When looking at the painting, this is what I saw. Others, especially from that time period saw something entirely different.
She looks unhappy, sitting with her husband, her drink before her. Notice that her drink is cloudy which identifies it as absinthe. Such a sad face Degas painted. Her husband is paying no attention to her as he watches others around the room. Degas painted her so delicately, while the husband is roughly put together, hat askew, untied tie, hair not combed. Perhaps he just slammed his hat on his head while she begged to go out.
This is my version of the painting. In reality, the models were Ellen Andree, an actress, and Marcellin Desboutin, a painter and print-maker. Edgar Degas sketched his ideas while viewing his subjects, but finished his paintings in his studio.
When this painting was first exhibited, it was called ugly, disgusting, and the persons depicted to be degraded and uncouth. Degas even had to publicly state that the two models were not alcoholics as this was also a criticism. Social conflict, public morals, so many different views of what the painter had in mind, when in reality perhaps, the two models had interesting faces and Degas chose to paint them in a cafe setting.
Absinthe, a dark green liquor, originally was made from worm-wood, herbs and spices. In a stylized ceremony, water is added drop by drop through a sugar cube which is suspended on a slotted spoon. It was called "The Green Fairy" as some of the ingredients caused hallucinations in the past. You can purchase it in specialized liquor stores and order Absinthe in some restaurants and bars.
What do you see in this painting?
The painting is actually very expressive. It seems like it was expected of women to look perfect and meat to be Ok. Wish you all the best with the challenge. I am not taking part this year because of my health issues.ReplyDelete
I know it is quite a commitment. I hope your health issues resolve themselves, but I appreciate your stopping by.Delete
I'm familiar with this painting, and I see two tired patrons, at the end of their day looking for a bit of entertainment. Perhaps the woman isn't entirely happy with her lot, hence she drinks the Absinthe. Degas was a great painter, IMO. Loved this.ReplyDelete
I have a feeling that you have seen this painting "in person." Looking at art can be such a unique experience for all of us and I mean all kinds, even the art we dislike.Delete
HI Tasha .. moroseness. Absinthe is a digestif ... he looks like he makes her indigestible! He certainly isn't out to win any prizes physically or socially by the look of it ..ReplyDelete
Great start ... looking forward to more .. Cheers Hilary
Great comment, Hilary. I am my way across the pond to your blog.ReplyDelete
Great post! Hmmm, to me it looks like the couple is either worn out after a hard day of work or emotionally drained, like they've just gone thru some ordeal. The lady's shoes and outfit don't look cheap to me, so I wouldn't assume them to be poor.ReplyDelete
It's more fun to imagine than to find out who the actual models were and how the painting was set up.Delete
I agree, two tired people, somewhat overworked.ReplyDelete
The absinthe with which I am familiar is clear and turns cloudy white with the addition of water which is the way it is drunk in many European countries.
JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE
Put them in modern dress and you could depict many couples today.ReplyDelete
Tasha, nice to know about art and its sub categories. I dn't have much exposure to these arts... Hope to know a lot from ur blogs... Very wonderfully writtenReplyDelete
I learn so much from doing the challenge. Thank you.ReplyDelete
The woman in the painting certainly looks distressed to me, enough so that I wonder what has happened to make her so unhappy.ReplyDelete
She does. It makes you wonder how Degas posed her, what directions he gave her -- look sad, think dark thoughts or?Delete
Yeah, I can see disappointment on both faces... She just get off the boat from Europe to look for a husband and better future and he, a Yankee - did not get what he has expected.ReplyDelete
There is a story there. Wonder if the Absinthe helped!Delete
Fantastic information! I see hopelessness in her... and, although I've seen this before I've never really thought about their story. Thank you.ReplyDelete
So true,I don't see these models as having a comfortable life, perhaps many struggles.Delete
Here at Pempi's Palace, I am really looking forward to following your post through the A to Z challengeReplyDelete
A painting of real life instead of a "posed" tableau allows us to look back through the ages. I liked that her feet were askew not neatly together. The painting tells part of a story that draws you in.
Love the name of your blog! I never knew you could herd cats. Paintings do give you a sense of history, a snapshot of the time period. I am so glad we have museums where we can look at many of them.ReplyDelete
there's raw unveiled emotion which of course in the history of humanity has always existed but you didn't talk about in polite company or hang pictures of in your home. i love it.ReplyDelete