Édouard Manet, The Plum
, c. 1877. 73.6 x 50.2 cm (29 x 19 3/4 in.). Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
(French: La Prune
), or Plum Brandy
, is an oil painting by Édouard Manet
. It is undated but thought to have been painted about 1877.
The painting is a study in loneliness, depicting a quiet, almost melancholy, scene of a young working girl seated in a café. The subject is viewed from nearby, perhaps by another seated customer. She may be a prostitute waiting for a client, or possibly a shop worker hoping for some conversation. On the table is a plum soaked in brandy, a speciality of Parisian cafés at the time (originally painted as a glass of beer), which gives the painting its title. She may be waiting for a waiter to bring a spoon to eat her plum. The plum may be a reference to the woman's sexuality, as the fruit was later used in James Joyce
. She leans forward, with her cheek resting on her right hand, and her right elbow on the marble tabletop, looking into the distance with a blank pensive look. Her left hand rests on the table holding an unlit cigarette. She wears a pink dress with embroidered cuffs, a white jabot, and a black hat trimmed with silk and lace. Her head is framed by the decorative grille behind her, above the red upholstered banquette
on which she sits. Read more...