The inspiration of Manet is modernist, which is clearly visible in the series of Seasons that he will not complete and where he is adapting the classic portraiture to display a modern young woman.
On June 24 in London, Sotheby's sells Le bar aux Folies-Bergère, oil on canvas 47 x 56 cm painted in 1881, lot 8 estimated £ 15M.
The barmaid is positioned before a vast space which is a reflection in a wall mirror, including her own reflection. The exact position of the glass is hardly noticeable. In the background, colors in dots figure a crowd at a show, anticipating altogether Lautrec and abstract art.
This scene that desires to be a counterpart to Las Meninas by Velazquez is troubling in its angles. It was painted in the studio. The man on the right who is visible only in his reflection is the door neighbor. The consistency of his position is explained when we accept to exclude the logical assumption that it he placed just in front of the woman.
Manet wants to create a masterpiece and appreciates that this theme allows it. Painted a few months later, the second and final version 96 x 130 cm marks a come back to a scene in realistic line with a towering girl whose actual model is an employee of the Folies-Bergère, a crowd whose details are visible and some additions like the increased assortment of drinks on the bar and the legs of the trapeze artist that anticipate Chagall.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's :