Un bar aux Folies Bergère by Édouard Manet (1882, English: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère)
Edouard Manet was born to a bourgeois family that boasted political connections to the Swedish monarchy and the French judiciary. Manet could have had a brilliant career in either the army or law, but instead chose to strike out and become an artist instead, with a particular focus on topics that were of interest to 19th-century bourgeois gents such as himself: domestic pleasures, leisure activities, and events that touched upon French political and foreign interests.
Manet’s work is what prompted his critics to coin the term “impressionism” in the first place. A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is a famous painting and tries to mirror, almost quite literally, the traditional still-life painting. Unlike a traditional still-life, however, this painting shows objects of commercial consumption in a setting where leisure itself was consumed.
Many art critics believe that Manet intended this painting to be a social commentary on late 19th century life—especially the disconnection that people felt (which one may see in the expression on the barmaid’s face) to the social encounters of modern life. Shop girls and barmaids such as this one shown above had to supplement their meager incomes through prostitution, and the foreboding image of the bourgeois, well-dressed fellow in the background suggests that the woman herself could have been seen an object of consumption.