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Olympia and A Bar at the Folies Bergère

Two masterpieces by Édouard Manet

Manet and Seurat

It was with Olympia and A Bar at the Folies Bergère that Édouard Manet suffered his second and final media lynching.

The Impressionnists

1. Olympia,
the story of a scandal

Olympia, analysis of the critical response


  • Analysis of the critical response

  • A deformed nude 

  • A filthy, beastly body 

  • The repulsive figure of "pierreuse 

  • The paralysis of the aesthetic judgement

3. Olympia,
a social and sexual taboo

Olympia, the story of a split society


Bourgeois mores imposed a regime of strict prudishness on women, while a compensatory prostitution, designed to be concealed, satisfied physiological needs and fantasies.

By depicting the common prostitute in the guise of a classical nude, Manet's Olympia reveals the failure of policies to curb prostitution and the contradictions of bourgeois sexuality.

4. A Bar at the Folies Bergère

A Bar at the Folies Bergère, from failure to masterpiece

Denounced by caricaturists and critics in 1880, the painting's visual inconsistencies nevertheless established Édouard Manet as a master of his art.

A religious painting, or a Post-Modernist work ahead of its time, A Bar crowned the career of a painter who put an end to a tradition inherited from the Renaissance perspectivists and opened the way to Post-Modernism, which questions the viewer's place in his relationship with the work.

Readings Splendeurs et misères : image de la prostitution, 1850-1910, Orsay, Flammarion, 2016 Julia Kristeva, Visions capitales, Fayard, 2013. Timothy James Clark, Image of the People – Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution, Thames and Hudson, 1973 Bradford R. Collins ed., Twelve Views of Manet's Bar, Princetone series in 19th Century Art, Culture, and Society, 1996 Michel Foucault,  La Peinture de Manet, Conférence à Tunis, 20 Mai 1971

Iconographic study

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