Bernard’s fascination with depicting scenes of modern, popular activities was shared with fellow artists Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Louis Anquetin, and he focused almost exclusively on this theme between 1884 and 1889. As art historian and curator Mary Anne Stevens notes, “These years saw his search for a new visual vocabulary capable of dissociating art from its traditional direct linked with external nature, such as explorations of the worlds of cafés, brothels and music halls may have presented Bernard with a perfect conjunction of non-natural subjects and a cruder, increasingly non-naturalistic technique derived in large measure from Vincent van Gogh and from the early work of Cézanne” (Mary Anne Stevens, Emile Bernard 1868-1941: A Pioneer of Modern Art, Amsterdam, 1990, p. 172).
The present work was first owned by critic Albert Aurier, an avid collector of Symbolist art and close friend of Bernard and van Gogh and remained in the family's collection for more than 100 years.
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