Tessa, Waiting In A Cafe, Paris, 1877


Edouard Manet, The Plum (1877)

She’s called to sing a tune
but now she’s hoarse, in need of
a cigarette and plum brandy.
Resting face on right hand,
wearing a black hat, still by
herself, in some cafe.

Even her pink dress she wore as
a suit of armor, with a bowed
collar. Waiting for a spoon.
Or a paramour. Some ally who’d
hear her out, a shambling
story, a mist of triumph.


Prompt: Here’s a young working class woman looking pensive, in a cafe. The woman who modelled this for Manet is actress Ellen Andree,  who was also the model for L’Absinthe, in which she also sat in a cafe with a green drink, in Edgar Degas’ 1876 painting. And voila, she was the model in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881), where she held a glass at a luncheon table. In all these paintings, she is the picture of human isolation, you guys. There is something obsessive about this trope.


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