The French Carolus-Duran’s 1870 Genre and Realist painting Merrymakers, captures a scheme of humor and fun in a cafe.
Carolus-Duran whose full name was actually Charles Auguste Émile Durand (1837-1917) was a painter of the high society of the French Third Republic.
In Merrymakers, we can see four well-dressed people – a woman laughing with her hand on her chest on whose lap is sitting a toddler delighted by the game being played on the table by the figure on the left who we see in profile, and a girl leaning in to see the expression of delight on the toddler’s face.
The game being played is the fooling of the bird on the table, painted in bright green, with a ‘bird’ of folded paper. The mood of the scene is one of gaiety and is painted in a straightforward Realism that does not admit irony. Fine details are present such as the knife overhanging the table which is in tension with the limits of the picture space, and the glass of wine.
Carolus-Duran’s Merrymakers can be found in the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts in Michigan, United States