Together with Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir is one of the central figures of impressionism. But while Monet prefers to paint landscapes in the open air, Renoir takes everyday life as the theme for his paintings. He frequently enjoys painting in cafés, which also brings him all kinds of commissions for portraits.
Play of contrasts
Renoir aims to get as close as possible to reality, but in his observations he includes everything that stimulates the senses – light, colour, movement, atmosphere. This small painting in predominantly bright and dark shades of blue is a subtle play of contrasts. The entire scene is blurred with no clear outlines.
The refined composition, with the sketchily painted figures in the background and the reflection of other café-goers in the mirror, gives a clear impression of a bustling café. This impression is reinforced by the quick, rough brushstrokes, which make everything appear to move. The result is a lively snapshot of Parisian life at the fin de siècle.