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Beer in Art #13: Edouard Manet’s Waitresses

Today’s featured paintings are by an artist whose work we first looked at in week one, three months ago. Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, is probably one of the most famous works of art to prominently display beer bottles, but because he so often set his paintings in Parisian nightlife, a number of his paintings have beer in them. There are two paintings today, because they are so similar that there names are even often confused. Both appear to be painted at the same concert, with the same characters, but at different moments in time. The two paintings are known as The Waitress and Corner of a Café-Concert. Both are believed to be painted between 1878-1880, with most sources giving 1879 for The Waitress. The painting below is, I believe, Corner of a Café-Concert, because it’s at London’s National Gallery and that’s the name they’ve given it, so I’m going with them since they own the painting. Various sources throughout the internet have the names of the two paintings interchanged.

In the first painting the dancer on stage looks more like she’d been painted by Edgar Degas than Manet. The National Gallery also has the following to say about the Corner of a Café-Concert:

This work was originally the right half of a painting of the Brasserie de Reichshoffen, begun in about 1878 and cut in two by Manet before he completed it. This half was then enlarged on the right and a new background was added. The left half of the composition is in the Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur.

The Brasserie de Reichshoffen was in the Boulevard Rochechouart, Paris. At the time, brasseries with waitresses were fairly new in the city.

The second painting, The Waitress, is closer in, tighter, with the same waitress stopping from her work and looking at the viewer. The same man is smoking his clay pipe at the bar in the foreground. The man next to the pipe smoker is either a different man or has changed hats and we can catch a glimpse of a dancer, possibly the same one, on stage behind them both.

Though most sources give the common name, at least one says the title is actually La Serveuse de Bocks. And while my French is awful, that sure sounds like “Serving Bocks,” “The Serving of Bocks,” or something like that.

If you want to learn more about the artist, the Art Archive or the ArtCyclopedia are both good places to start and Wikipedia also has a nice summary. Also the Edouard Manet Gallery purports to have a complete gallery of his works.


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