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Photo © The Courtauld

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882

Édouard Manet (1832 - 1883)

Held at the threshold

  • Medium:
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:
    96 × 130 cm
  • Collection:
    The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)
  • Coll. No:

Click here to listen to an audio commentary on the technical analysis of 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère', in which co-curator Katherine George describes how the X-radiograph has informed the interpretation of Manet’s masterpiece.

The Folies-Bergère, a music-hall in Paris, was renowned in the 19th century as a venue where different social groups could mingle. Edouard Manet places the barmaid as the central subject of this painting. She is cut off from the customers’ revelry by a marble counter, demarcating the space of labour that she occupies from the room beyond, brimming with leisure. The raucous activity and entertainment of the venue are reflected in the mirror behind her, though they are not the main subject of the work. This physical and metaphorical divide of the bar invites us to question who has access to these spaces.

Press next to see an X-Radiograph of A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Used primarily for conservation purposes, the image shows the layers of paint, the artist’s workings and the sketched outlines of the painting. It presents a visible record of Manet’s creative process, revealing how the painting was conceived.

To read an analysis of this X-Radiograph, by Alice Sherwood (PGDIP Conservation of Easel Paintings student at The Courtauld 2019-22) visit pages 56-59 of the Catalogue.

Individual image captions as seen from left to right:

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882

X-Radiograph of A Bar at the Folies-Bergère