Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



This thesis analyzes the significance of the Paris café in Modern Art. In discussing the social and historical events of mid to late nineteenth century Paris, it establishes the atmosphere in which the first modern artists broke from the formal academy system. The primary focus is two-fold. First, how the café was established in Parisian culture as a social institution and the role this played as a replacement for the Ecole des Beaux Arts and in the formation of a new art movement. Second, how the new artists incorporated the café culture into their art as a representation of modern life. In discussing the café culture of the late-nineteenth century, it goes on to examine the role of the drink absinthe as a symbol of café life. The works of Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Jean-Francois Raffaelli and Vincent Van Gogh are analyzed and compared in order to establish the symbolism of the café. Primary and Secondary resources were used, including original illustrations and quotes by the café patrons, artists and writers, to establish physical descriptions of the café interiors. This study shows that the café culture in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century was an influential factor in the birth of modern art. For the new artists who portrayed the café in their works, it was a symbol of modern life.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Richard Cox