Bar at the Folies Bergere is one of the last painted by the famous artist Manet, whose lower limbs were already almost completely paralyzed, between 1881 and 1882. It was accepted at the Salon of 1882 and was one of the very few works by Manet to meet with public approval. It depicts the bar of the celebrated Parisian nightclub Les Folies-Bergere. The use of the mirror to extend the space depicted in the picture is taken from Las Meninas by Velazquez, a painter much admired by Manet. Here, however, as critics immediately pointed out, the perspective of the reflected image is not correct, but shifted to the side: the mirror is set parallel to the bar, but we see the girl's back on the right of the composition, along with the customer facing her. The effect is disconcerting: we find ourselves face to face with the barmaid, and therefore in the position of the bearded man, but the reflection disrupts the perspective and underlines our distance from the work: contemporary accounts speak of "people crowded in front of the painting, exchanging bewildered comments on the mirage of this canvas." The work is considered one of the closest, from the stylistic viewpoint, to those of the Impressionists, and it is true that in the painting, as in others from these years, we find brushwork that in some ways resembles Monet's (especially in the crowd or the large chandelier reflected in the mirror). But the difference from the Impressionists remains profound, both technically, with Manet's fondness for the use of black as a color, and in the very conception of the work, whose carefully planned composition is not taken from life, but worked out, including the effect of the reflected lights, in the artist's studio.
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