At the Cafe, 1878 by Edouard Manet

We have before us one of the crowning works of Manet's career. The painter, permitting his talent to blossom forth, has expressed his whole art in this canvas. It is one of those pictures in which time has been evoked like a melody underlying the color. I admire the restrained emotion which gives the painting this lyrical quality.

The picture was painted at the restaurant Pere Lathuille, an old establishment near the Clichy tollhouse. (Its sign appears in a picture by Horace Vernet.) In Manet's day, the restaurant was near the Guerbois, off the avenue de Clichy. The model for the woman was Mile French, who took over from the original model, Ellen Andree, when she had to break off the sittings. The young dandy is the son of the proprietor, M. Gauthier-Lathuille. Tabarant knew him later when he had turned the old restaurant into a cafe-concert, the Eden. It was then that Gauthier-Lathuille told him the story of Manet's painting. He had met Manet at his parents' restaurant while he was a volunteer in a regiment of dragoons. He was to have posed in uniform with Ellen Andree, who was at that time still very young, charming, amusing, and beautifully dressed. After two sittings the picture was progressing very well, but at the third - no Ellen Andree. She begged to be excused: she was rehearsing a play. Two days later, she met with a rather cool reception from Manet, who said that if that was how things stood, he could do without her. "The next day," recounted Gautluer-Lathuille, "I saw Manet come in with Mile Judith French, a relative of Offenbach. I took up my pose again with her, but it was not the same thing. Manet was fidgety. 'Take off your jacket and put on mine,' he said to me at last, handing me his own jacket of tussore silk. He then began to scrape the canvas, and thus it was decided that I should pose in civilian clothes with Mile French."