Forain was a friend of Degas and actually exhibited with the Impressionists four times between 1879 and 1886. His chief subjects in this period were everyday scenes of Parisian life, primarily theaters and cafes. Later in his career he turned both as painter and caricaturist to more satirical themes commenting on social and judicial issues. This early work, which is very possibly one of the four Scenes of the Folies-Bergère that he showed at the 1879 exhibition, is still a bit awkward in its rendering of the fashionable crowd jostling on the floor of one of Paris’s most popular night spots, the music hall called the Folies-Bergère. While reminiscent of Manet, Forain’s talent and intent are more modest. None of the figures really engage the viewer’s eye, as they all seem to be hurrying in different directions, but the watercolor medium serves well to capture the harsh light and sense of activity. As writers commented at the time: “Forain, a very young man, follows Degas with one foot and the caricaturist Grevin with the other. Despite that, his watercolors are stamped with originality…Above all he renders interiors of the Folies-Bergère, the evening refuge of the cocottes with a completely Parisian sensibility.”

Jean Louis Forain
French, 1852–1931
Crowd at the Folies-Bergère, c. 1878
Watercolor and gouache on paper
Bequest of George A. Gay, 1941.170

From Our Collection

1594, Caravaggio 1731, Canaletto 1749, Panini 1773, Wright

Upcoming Events

Dec
19
Fri
12:00 pm Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy
Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s …
Dec 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy
Rembrandt Peale, Raja Ram Mohun Roy, 1833, Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy: [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Dec 19 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
Dec
20
Sat
1:00 pm Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcracker Suite
Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcr…
Dec 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcracker Suite: The Hartford City Ballet performs its popular annual holiday classic The Nutcracker Suite. For tickets and more info visit hartfordcityballet.org [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Dec 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
2:30 pm Tour: Looking at Landscapes
Tour: Looking at Landscapes
Dec 20 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Tour: Looking at Landscapes: Free with admission; meet at the Information Desk by The Museum Shop.

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