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The year of the creation of the painting is 1893.
At first it was called simply “People in a cafe”. We see a pretty drunk woman and definitely a sober man who settled down at a table. This is a friend of Degas and a popular actress. She was always elegant. But we are faced with an absolutely simple woman.
Right in front of her is a glass in which absinthe is poured. It is noticeable that they have already been drunk a lot. The woman stretched her legs forward slightly, limply lowered her shoulders. She is indifferent to everything. The man’s eyes are completely bloodshot.
Directly in front of him is a glass in which a miraculous remedy has been poured to help from a hangover - mazagran. Everything happens in the morning. Nearby we see a carafe in which water is poured. Absinthe was diluted with it. The viewer sees the newspaper. They are specially offered for those who come to the cafe. Behind the seated couple you can see the mirror. Degas specially cut it. The thing is that he was characterized by a certain photographic manner. You can see the window in it. Through it the light of a nascent morning enters the room.
If a man looks away, then the woman’s gaze is directed strictly in front of him. She absolutely does not care. Degas deliberately shifted the figures, giving the picture a certain fleetingness. The artist wanted to vividly demonstrate that the man in modern Paris he is becoming more and more isolated. The composition is completely unpredictable and even slightly hooligan. Many painters dedicated their paintings to this topic, but Degas did something special.
This is a real mystery picture, which is not so typical for Degas. One gets the impression that absinthe simply distorted all reality. He changed her beyond recognition. It is no coincidence that the author decided to rename the painting, calling it "Absinthe."
Jacques Louis David Pictures