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Absinthe - Edgar Degas. 92x68
It’s not by chance that Degas grabbed onto the topic that everyone was “hearing” in Europe at that time. And although many talented masters, contemporaries of the artist wrote dozens of paintings about this “scourge” of our time, Degas turned out, as always, always something unique. For Degas, this is primarily an unpredictable, non-standard, even, if you like, “hooligan” composition. It seems that there is no center, no edge, no beginning or end. This is one large, peeped and “torn” fragment from what he saw, seemingly at first glance, a random plot.
The man sitting on the right (Marseille Debutin - a friend and colleague of the artist) is not connected in the story with the lady to his right (the then-popular actress Ellen Andre). In front of the lady is a filled glass with absinthe, and, apparently, is not the first. Yes, the lady is drunk and indifferent to what is happening, her gaze stopped, her shoulders are lowered, the socks of elegant shoes “spread” to the sides and are torn off the ground.
The man, on the contrary, looks sober and tense, red, bloodshot eyes inexorably say about the "hard night". In front of him is a coffee drink from a hangover - mazagran in a glass cup. It would seem a boring, ordinary, gray scene, but everything around is something wrong ...
Maybe these little tables “floating” in the air, written without legs and tablecloths or intact vessels with drinks, or these rough, sharp shadows behind the ladies and gentlemen with the pipe, as if they were not shadows at all, but two strangers sitting at the next table and at the same time being in the looking glass. After all, Degas deliberately did not draw shadows falling from people on the thin edge of the back of the bench in order to separate these “ghost shadows” and contrast them with visible reality.
Before us is a riddle picture, not quite typical of the author. As if it is a reality distorted by absinthe. Is it because the author, after so many years of reflection, renamed the picture from “A sketch of a French cafe” to “People in a cafe”, and, finally, to the “Absinthe” known to us?