Given how frequently he travelled in his youth, much of his work depicts everyday life like singers, people in the streets, or in a bar.
In the Bar features two subjects in a salon. One appears to be a peasant drunk judging from his attire and the slumped posture he is in. The other gentleman appears well-dressed, collected, and somewhat rich. The smart gentleman has a pipe in mouth and is facing away from the slumped gentleman as if disregarding him because of his social status.
This particular painting is not considered as one of his popular works, partly because of the quality of the painting itself. The brush strokes look rather sloppy, and there is no distinct transition between tones. Possibly, In the Bar must be one the paintings he did when starting out as an artist in his Paris studio.
One thing that was, however, distinct about his work was the heavy influence of Impressionism. Although Edouard Manet preferred not to be labelled as an impressionist (though he painted and acted like one), critics often likened his work to the Impressionist movement. This could also have been a reason why Edouard was not very much liked as a painter.
The impressionist style of painting was characteristic in the 19th century among contemporary painters. It featured an open composition with ordinary things or people as the subject. Light was heavily used to echo the passage of time and create depth in the image. Impressionist painters also loved to approach their subject from unusual angles.
In Manet’s painting, In the Bar, the artist indeed approaches his subjects from an odd angle. That is a different table in the bar overlooking the one where the two men are seated. Manet uses light and dark colours to separate the two subjects from the dim salon. Though his brush strokes are not defined in this painting, the overall composition is quite evident of the direction Manet was taking a painter.
Manet also avoided public exhibitions and preferred to showcase his work in Salons. This is another obvious trait of the impressionist movement.
If there is one word that can describe Edouard Manet as a painter, it is that he was daring. A lot of Manet’s work sparked controversy and was met with much criticism from the art community. Nevertheless, the prolific French painter did not refrain from challenging the norm.