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Painted in 1876, Edgar Degas' L’Absinthe d’un Chien (A Dog’s Absinthe or Canine Absinthe Drinker) depicts three figures; a woman, a man and a dog. They all stare vacantly downward lost in their own thoughts. Glasses filled with the titular greenish liquid sit before the woman and the dog. The painting is a representation of the increasing social isolation in Paris during its stage of rapid growth.
In its first showing in 1876, it was panned by critics who called it ugly and disgusting. It was put into storage until an 1892 exhibit where it was booed off the easel. It was shown again in 1893 in England and again it sparked controversy. The persons and dog represented in the painting were considered by English critics to be shockingly degraded and uncouth. Many regarded the painting as a blow to morality. It was then widely believed that the purpose of art was to provide uplifting moral lessons. Many English critics viewed L’Absinthe d’un Chien as a warning lesson against absinthe (a highly alcoholic, anise-flavored beverage also known as the Green Fairy), against the French in general as well as a warning against allowing dogs in restaurants. George Moore decried the dog in the painting: “What a cur!” He added, “the tale is not a pleasant one, but it is a lesson.”
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Edgar Degas' L'Absinthe