“Absinthe Drinker”

Edgar Degas, "L'Absinthe" 1876, oil on canvas.
Edgar Degas, “L’Absinthe” 1876, oil on canvas.

 

Degas always painted contemporary social conditions with such style. The Absinthe Drinker represents the darker side of the bustling Parisian social scene of the late 19th c. Absinthe, a liqueur distilled from wormwood, an herb known to cause hallucinations, also known as ‘the green fairy’ was THE drink of choice for artists, writers, and all the bohemians who dwelled in the city of lights. A bad bug infestation depleted the french wine market of the day so absinthe grew in popularity. Yet here we see the loneliness and isolation that existed side by side the cancan dancers, operas and ballets. The emptiness in her face is so telling, as well as the power of addiction. (Originally posted to Instagram on November 30th, 2012.)

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