Goals and Intentions Introduction Shifts in historical epochs have carried with them corresponding shifts in artistic production. One prominent art-historical period is the late 19th century. During this time a variety of new forms of artistic expression occurred with perhaps impressionism and naturalism the most prominent among them…
While these art genres constitute overarching modes of production, there exists tremendous intention and variability within these genres. This essay compares Edouard Manet’s impressionist work ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergere’ with Jules Bastien-Lepage’s ‘The Haymaker’ and examines both works for the artists’ intentions of creation. Comparative and Contrasting Elements Overarching Elements Edouard Manet was one of the most prominent impressionists working in the 19th century. While his work is seminal as an artifact of impressionism, it also has a number of notable individual elements. In this context of understanding one considers Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergere’. Created in 1882 this was Manet’s last major work. While Edouard Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergere’ is firmly rooted in the impressionist genre, Jules Bastien-Lepage’s ‘The Haymaker’ is understood to rooted in naturalism. This specific work was created in 1878. There are a number of comparative and contrasting elements to these works’ outward intentions. Manet’s outward intention in the creation of the work is to depict the Folies-Bergere nightclub from Paris, France. The work itself contains a great amount of materials that function to situate it as a visual depiction of the Folies. Researchers noted a pair of green feet in the upper right hand corner; these are the depiction of a trapeze artist that is performing at the club. In addition to this visual element, the specific ale featured is also reminiscient of the Folies-Bergere, namely Bass Pale Ale; this is noted by the red triangle on the bottle. Conversely, Bastien-Lepage’s work ostensibly depicts a woman sitting in a field, with a man passed out beside her; the obvious understanding is that they have been making or gathering hay. When considered in contrast to Manet’s work a number of notable elements emerge. Perhaps the most notable consideration outside of genre is the divergent socio-economic depiction. While Manet’s work is concerned with urban Parisian existence, Bastien-Lepage’s painting explores notions of the rural working class. Lombardi notes the woman is a peasant and considers that, “She is exhausted by hours of work, certainly not dreaming, but bearing all the signs of her human condition” (Lombardi, pg. 28). Ultimately, the most notable difference is this divergent depiction of socioeconomic status. Thematic and Artistic Intentions While there are divergent depictions of socioeconomic class, the two works demonstrate a number of convergent thematic concerns. One connotation as articulated in both works is an underlining sexuality. Referring to his creation of the work Bastien-Lepage wrote a letter to a woman noting, “You make one feel the scent of the hay and the heat of the meadow” (Bastien-Lepage, pg. 37). This statement carries with it a number of interpretive possibilities. For instance, the woman’s exhaustive state, while ostensibly demonstrating her exhaustion from work, could also function as a metaphor from the post-sexual act. Similarly, one considers the woman’s face in the Manet work wherein she contains a contemplative and tired look, perhaps reflecting on her sexual interaction with the man depicted in the mirror. One consideration is the nature of the bar as a marketplace. It’s understood that the Bass Pale Ale is a beer that tourists would drink rather than regular Parisians. When one considers the ...
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