The Absinthe Drinker, 1901, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).
Hermitage Museum Russia (Wikipedia)
Absinthe was invented in the 18th century as a medicinal beverage, and grew in popularity until its high point in the pre-World War I era. It was loved by both the successful people and the failures.
Café Table with Absinthe, 1887, Vincent van Gogh
(1853-1890), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
In Van Gogh's painting you can see the color of the drink. And maybe how delicious and cool it looked! Van Gogh was a dedicated absinthe drinker, like many artists including his friend Toulouse Lautrec, who sketched Van Gogh and many others in Paris cafés. I wrote more about Van Gogh and his choices of food and drink here.
Monsieur Boileau au Café, 1893.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
|The Absinthe Drinkers 1881, by Jean-François Raffaëlli (1850–1924).|
|Léon Spilliaert, The Absinthe Drinker, 1907.|
Léon Spilliaert was a Belgian symbolist painter (1881-1946). He “was a fan of the fabled absinthe drinker Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. But if ever an artwork could put you off the green fairy, this is it.” (The Guardian, “Léon Spilliaert’s The Absinthe Drinker: an eldritch cautionary tale”)
|The oldest bar in New Orleans, founded in the early 19th century, is called "The Old Absinthe House."|
Absinthe also had a role in literature. A famous essay on absinthe was written in 1918 in New Orleans by Aleister Crowley: "Absinthe: The Green Goddess." It begins:
"Keep always this dim corner for me, that I may sit while the Green Hour glides, a proud pavane of Time. For I am no longer in the city accursed, where Time is horsed on the white gelding Death, his spurs rusted with blood.
"There is a corner of the United States which he has overlooked. It lies in New Orleans, between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue; the Mississippi for its base. ...
"Here, too are marble basins hollowed – and hallowed! – by the drippings of the water which creates by baptism the new spirit of absinthe.
"I am only sipping the second glass of that 'fascinating, but subtle poison, whose ravages eat men’s heart and brain' that I have ever tasted in my life; and as I am not an American anxious for quick action, I am not surprised and disappointed that I do not drop dead upon the spot. But I can taste souls without the aid of absinthe; and besides, this is magic of absinthe! The spirit of the house has entered into it; it is an elixir, the masterpiece of an old alchemist, no common wine." (source)
L'Absinthe, 1876. Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Perhaps the most famous absinthe art work.
As its popularity grew, absinthe was considered both highly addictive and highly dangerous, believed to cause hallucinations, madness, and even murder. It was banned in Europe from around 1910-2005, and in the United States from 1912-2007. Regulation of legal absinthe now limits the amount of thujone, the psychoactive substance that comes from wormwood.
The irresistible appeal and danger of absinthe is depicted in many works of art, of which I've shown just a few. I'm always interested in how specific foods and drinks have been depicted in the arts. This post will be shared with Elizabeth at Altered Book Lover and other bloggers who love to write about drinks. © 2021 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com.