Lucid Absinthe Blog 7/3/2013

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde, absinthe drinker

oscar wilde

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
― Vincent van Gogh, absinthe drinker

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_National_Gallery_of_Art

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”
― Vincent van Gogh, absinthe drinker

absinthe close up

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La Belle Époque

La Belle Époque (1871-1914) is a period in French history during which absinthe served as inspiration to many artists. Although the following paintings may or may not be inspired by absinthe specifically, we would like to share them with you. Perhaps you too will be inspired to create art.

Here is French painter’s James Tissot’s “Hush!” (c.1875), which depicts an elegant French salon.

James Tissot, %22Hush!%22 c.1875

At about the same time as France was experiencing La Belle Époque, America was going through The Gilded Age, during which many beautiful American works were created. For example, here is Charles Courtney “Curran’s Lotus Lilies” (1888).

Charles Courtney Curran (1861-1942)  Lotus Lilies

Here is Giovanni Boldini’s fantastic “Spanish Dancer at the Moulin Rouge” (c1905). In modern times, many people know of the Moulin Rouge due to the film of the same name, which appropriately for its time period, features absinthe drinking and an appearance by the green fairy.

Giovanni Boldini, Spanish Dancer at the Moulin Rouge

Being inspired to create art was not always easy. Here is “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897) by French artist Henri Rousseau. During his life, Rousseau was laughed at by critics and was very, very poor. But after he died, he was recognized as a self-taught genius. This painting of his has inspired poetry, music, artwork, and TV shows including “The Simpsons.”

the-sleeping-gypsy-1897-henri-rousseau

“The Earthquake” Absinthe Cocktail by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Lautrec

This recipe is an update of an original recipe created by the great painter and absinthe drinker, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It is called “The Earthquake” due to the drink’s strength.

Earthquake

Photo by Anna-Lucia Stone

Ingredients:

  • Lucid Absinthe
  • Cognac

Preparation:

  • Mix absinthe and cognac together in an absinthe glass at a ratio of 1 part absinthe to 1 part cognac.
  • Mix thoroughly to ensure drink consistency.
  • Gradually add iced water, exactly as with a traditional absinthe preparation.
  • Enjoy!

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Painter and Absinthe Drinker

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a great painter who found inspiration in absinthe.

Lautrec

Lautrec liked to drink absinthe and paint. One of his most famous paintings is “Salon at the Rue des Moulins” (1894).

1227px-Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec_012

Lautrec loved absinthe so much that he kept some in his hollowed-out cane.

Photolautrec

In the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge, Lautrec the painter and absinthe drinker is played by John Leguizamo (on the right).

lautrec in moulin rouge

Lautrec once said,

“Do you know what it is like to be haunted by colors? To me… the color green… is something like… temptation.”

absinthe_fountain

One of Lautrec’s most famous paintings is of another absinthe drinker, Van Gogh.

851px-Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec_056

Here is a terrific article about the painter Lautrec, which talks a bit about how absinthe influenced what he drew: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/art-and-absinthe-20121123-29y7z.html

Some Historical Facts About Absinthe

The first commercial absinthe appeared in 1798.

By the mid 1850s, tens of thousands of liters of absinthe were being produced every day and shipped across Europe.

Absinthe was given the name “La Fée Verte”, meaning “The Green Fairy.”

In Paris, absinthe became the most popular drink. The cocktail hour came to be called “L’Heure Verte”, meaning “The Green Hour.”

During the latter half of the 19th century, absinthe came to be the preferred drink of painters, poets, writers, and other artists.

August Strindberg: Absinthe Drinker

August Strindberg (1849 – 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter.

Why don’t you take some absinthe? Are you afraid of it? Look at the bottle! It heals those who have been wounded on the battlefield, friends and foes alike…
– “The Red Room”, Chapter 14: Absinthe

I had to sit in the hall by the coachmen’s table and drink absinthe – why should I drink cognac?
– “Here and There”

Here in the valley, protected from northerly winds… the treasured absinthe-herb is grown, which now in spring lies like small gray-green pillows on the newly dug beds.
– “Among French Farmers”

Here in France… the beverages are despite the high taxes not expensive… an Absinthe [costs] 15 [centimes].
– “Among French Farmers”

Soon I am on a sofa next to a perfectly frappéd absinthe by the open window. The sun goes down, and now people are starting to liven up the streets. As only a few cars are in motion, the driveway is without a care taken over by art makers and exhibitors and tables and chairs are moved out into the street and it’s time for L’Heure de l’Absinthe.
– “Among French Farmers”

“He, who has had the common habit of drinking green absinthe, shall with disgust put a white one to his lips. This happened to me in Switzerland, where I used to have a six o’clock absinthe to rest my nerves at such a bringer of joy. One day I am served a white product of this, which I sent back as being awful, with the request of a green one. The waiter answers me, that they have no green.
– “Flower Paintings and Animal Pieces”

A good absinthe comforts me for a few minutes, then I am attacked by a bunch of cocottes and students who beat me in my face with sticks, and like chased by furies I leave my absinthe behind and hurry to get a new one in café François Premier at Boulevard Saint-Michel.
– “Inferno”

Viktor Oliva: Absinthe Painter, Absinthe Drinker

Today’s theme is absinthe painter & absinthe drinker Viktor Oliva (1861-1928)!

Last week, someone asked if the famous painting “Absinthe Drinker” by Viktor Oliva is available as a print.  It is, and the print is really popular.  Here is the link.  Click on the thumbnail below for a hi-res scan of “Absinthe Drinker.”

Around 1903, painter Viktor Oliva was celebrating with a lady friend. He wrote in his diary, “As I looked at her through my [champagne] glass, and saw her beautiful form, it looked as if the Green Fairy herself was swimming inside. What a wonderful pairing that would be!” Absinthe and champagne!

Writer Ernest Hemingway also loved absinthe with champagne.

In fact, Hemingway invented the absinthe cocktail “Death in the Afternoon“. Hemingway’s instructions are: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” Lucid does not recommend the last step, unless you are Ernest Hemingway.

According to his diary entries, painter Viktor Oliva (1861-1928) regularly drank absinthe at Cafe Slavia in Prague, which is still serving absinthe after over 130 years!  In fact, Cafe Slavia’s modern day patrons eat and drink under Oliva’s original painting “Absinthe Drinker” (c. 1903) hanging on the wall.

History: Painters and Absinthe

Many famous painters throughout history were known to be fond of alcohol — and it was no different with absinthe.  Painters drank it, enjoyed it, and even committed it to the canvas.  Below, in chronological order, are paintings of absinthe by some of history’s most famous painters:

  • The Absinthe Drinker by Édouard Manet. 1858.
  • The Absinthe Drinker by Edgar Degas. 1873.
  • Still Life with Absinthe by Vincent Van Gogh. 1887.
  • Monsieur Boileau at the Café by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 1893.
  • The Green Muse by Albert Maignan. 1895.
  • Woman Drinking Absinthe by Pablo Picasso. 1901.