Last month I was in Paris where I spent some time at the inspirational D’Orsay museum where no one works were more impressive than Manet’s and where, because this was out of the tourist season, I could stand alone in front of his most famous picture and marvel. I also realized that I wasn’t going to be seeing this at the London Manet exhibition which is still running and where I’m off to today.
I have known it since student days but it now has added poignancy for me not only because i have visited many more bars since I first saw this painting but also because that distant look on the barmaid’s face now reminds me of the feeling I get, post brain haemorrhage, when I have what the neurologist called an “absence” – a moment often in a crowded space when my mind just leaves the room for a moment or two. Manet makes me feel that it is not always a bad thing to go absent. I’m looking forward to this new encounter with one of France’s greatest artists.
…or from Amazon: