In At the Beer Garden Adolph Menzel chimes with the new art in France, that of Manet and others, which sought to depict modernity and people’s lives as they lived them. Subject-matter migrated from the myths and histories of classical tradition to the coffee houses and beer halls of contemporary cities.
Here in this 1883 picture the two main characters are seated at a table. Both seem to be in somewhat of a reverie as the conversation has stopped and they stare into space while the bustle of noise and activity goes on around them.
Both are smoking cigars and the man seated on the right absent-mindedly plays with the lid of a beer jug. The execution by Menzel too is reminiscent of Manet in its speed which particularly suits the rough folds in the jackets of the pair.
Adolph Menzel’s At the Beer Garden is in the Museum Georg Schafer, Schweinfurt, Germany.