Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition

Front Cover
Edouard Manet was one of the most innovative and controversial artists in the 19th century. A painter of modern life, he portrayed the new leisure activities of Parisian aristocracy and bourgeoisie. A Bar at the Folies-Bergere reflects Manet's interest in the new social mobility of Parisian society as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the interaction of classes. The viewer is presented with a mirror set close behind the barmaid, which reflects the densely packed sparkling interior of the famous dance hall that virtually symbolized Parisian nightlife at the time. Also reflected in the mirror is a man across the counter, facing the barmaid. The scene suggests that he is propositioning her, for as is well known, the servers were as available as the drinks and the sexually symbolic fruit on the counter. Strikingly in contrast with the buoyant setting, this act of interaction between social classes reflects the grim aspect of modern life that comes with the increasing commodification of society. But as is typical of Manet, the picture, filled with references and hidden meanings, defies any one interpretation and is open to multiple readings. Book jacket.

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I love this edition of Jansons book! The quality of the book itself binding paper print and illustrations are what a book dedicated to beauty should be. Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Joseph Jacobs was born in Sydney, Australia on August 29, 1854. After graduating from Cambridge University in 1876, he pursued a full and varied career, writing many essays for various periodicals including a famous series in 1882 on the Russian persecutions of the Jews. He also made his influence felt as a Jew by editing the first issues of The Jewish Yearbook (1896--99), serving as president of the Jewish Historical Society, and editing The Jewish Encyclopedia. He later served as professor of English at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. His interest in folklore grew out of his studies in anthropology. From 1890 to 1893, he edited Folk Lore, a British journal on the subject. He also edited the Arabian Nights and Aesop's Fables and produced a series of fairy tale books. These fairy tale collections were the result of regular research in folklore, literature, anthropology, and other fields, and they are, perhaps, the works for which he is best remembered today. While other collectors of English folk tales rewrote or left out the crude language of the originals, he brought the vigor of colloquial English into his folk tale collections, and such memorable phrases as Fee-fi-fo-fum and chinny chin chin remain the strength of his contributions. He died on January 30, 1916.

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