The Absinthe Drinker by Edgar Degas in 1876 (Impressionism)
It was exhibited at the 3rd Impressionist Exhibition in 1877 and faced a very cold reception in France. But the English hated it😰They viewed it as a warning lesson against absinthe and the French lack of moral in general.
The painting evokes an aspect of the dark side of Parisian life. The pathetic solitude emanating from the scene is accentuated by the right-of-center location of the human figures. (One unusual aspect of the painting is the fact that the tables in the scene have no legs and they just hover in the air without any visible means of support. Here is the original application of Degas in using styling from Japanese prints and art resulting in a very flat composition🇯🇵) The body language and expression of the couple show the effects of the poisonous green alcohol, often referred to as the” green fairy”✨
Absinthe had been known since biblical times. The greek name ”absinthion” means ”undrinkable”😳. The modern absinthe story began in the 1830s when French troops fighting in Algeria used it as an anti-malarial. They brought their newfound taste home with them, and it soon became popular.
In the second half of the nineteenth century absinthe became commonly known as “the queen of poisons” and in France was considered responsible for a range of social changes – from an increase in numbers incarcerated in asylums, to trade union unrest and even women’s emancipation(!!!)
It also became a symbol and a fuel for creative individuals and artists including Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Gauguin, van Gogh… either drank it or made it the subject of their work. At the time it was considered to stimulate creativity and act as an aphrodisiac...
Later in 1914, the production and selling of absinthe was finally outlawed by the French government⛔️. The models for these unfortunate people were two close friends of Degas: Ellen Andrée and the painter Marcelin Desboutin… after the painting was exhibited, it cast a slur on their reputations and Degas had to state publicly that they were not alcoholics😅.