other end of the economic spectrum is the barmaid in Edouard Manetís A Bar
at the Folies-Bergere, 1881-2. This is a representation of a working
girl, bourgeois, and middle class.
employee of a nightclub, she wears a uniform with a moderate amount of lace
and a little jewelry. Body proportions? The costume suggests a large, horizontal
bust line, small waist, and very wide hips - an exaggerated hourglass figure.
Accessories? The flowers in or over her cleavage draw attention and soften
her bust line. The black ribbon with hanging locket was a typical token of
prostitution. (Perhaps, she needed to earn extra money on the side, as was
typical for women on their own at the end of the 19th century.) Obviously,
the main props are the counter, bottles of champagne, wine and liquor defining
her role as a barmaid. The wall behind her is covered with a large mirror in
which are reflected the chandelier, patrons of the nightclub, and to the
right, the man to whom she is talking. If we ignore the spatial irregularity
of the barmaidís and customerís reflections being transferred over to the
right, the man is standing where we should be. For she looks directly out at
us as she is directly looking into the eyes of the customer. While the
staging of this painting may not have been for the purpose of propaganda, it
does introduce many details about her and her environment, and serves as a
documentary of the realities of young women in the workplace.