Represent the taverns

Represent the taverns

  • A guinguette.

    LHERMITTE Léon-Augustin (1844 - 1925)

  • Guinguette in Poissy.

    LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

  • La Brise de mer. Guinguette in Port-Méjean.

    DAUPHIN Eugène-Baptiste-Emile (1857 - 1930)

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Title: A guinguette.

Author : LHERMITTE Léon-Augustin (1844 - 1925)

Creation date : 1913

Date shown: 1913

Dimensions: Height 6.4 - Width 8.9

Technique and other indications: Aristotype.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski / All rights reserved

Picture reference: 08-520483 / PHO1988-20-744

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski / All rights reserved

To close

Title: Guinguette in Poissy.

Author : LEMOINE Henri (1848 - 1924)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Aristotype.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 00-009614 / Pho1987-20-11

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

To close

Title: La Brise de mer. Guinguette in Port-Méjean.

Author : DAUPHIN Eugène-Baptiste-Emile (1857 - 1930)

Creation date : 1912

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas Exhibited at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts in 1912 Photograph by François Antoine Vizzavona (1876-1961).

Storage location: Rmn photographic agency, Druet-Vizzavona fund website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Vizzavonasite web

Picture reference: 97-025048 / VZC7909

La Brise de mer. Guinguette in Port-Méjean.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Vizzavona

Publication date: September 2010

Historical context

Represent the tavern after impressionism

From the end of the Second Empire, going to taverns became a true art of living. The representation of these establishments and of those who relax there offers a fairly new choice of "everyday" and "popular" subjects, far from any academicism.

If they are the conscious or unconscious heirs of this impressionist approach, Charles Augustin Lhermitte, Eugène Baptiste Émile Dauphin and Henri Lemoine offer another treatment of this theme which then became "picturesque". The two photographers (Lemoine and Lhermitte) choose an almost documentary approach, while Dauphin favors a more naturalistic and more classic approach, which is “landscape”. These documents also provide various information both on the tavern, then a real social and cultural phenomenon, and on the evolution and perception of this type of establishment in the early years of the 20th century.e century.

Image Analysis

The guinguette, between scene of life and landscape

Dating from 1913, the photograph A guinguette is the work of Charles Augustin Lhermitte (1881-1945). If this amateur photographer shows a certain interest in the formal and aesthetic experiments of pictorialism of which he sometimes adopts certain procedures, he generally favors a descriptive approach of his subject. His representations of rural life and landscapes are thus part of the current of documentary photography of the late 19th century.e century and early twentiethe. Far enough from the fine and crisp image that characterizes his most famous shots, A guinguette seems relatively little reworked, expressing a certain spontaneity on the part of its author. In the foreground, it shows customers in their Sunday best, suits and boater for men, elegant blouses and hats for women, seated in front of their drinks. Sitting in the shade of the trees, they wait for the show to begin on the small covered stage. A flowered hedge separates the establishment from a path where walkers (whose heads can be seen) are numerous. In the background, the bright sunlight floods a wooden building with two raised balconies, which are used here by three women.

Favoring subjects such as the halls of Paris or even the racetracks, Henri Lemoine simply seeks to capture certain traits of his time and also fits into a documentary perspective. The cliché Guinguette in Poissy, probably produced in the 1910s, shows clients, men, women and children all well dressed, come to attend a show. Sitting in the shelter of large painted parasols, they took their places on metal chairs facing an off-screen stage. The poplars and willows in the background impart a very rustic atmosphere to the whole.

Canvas exhibited at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts in 1912, The Sea Breeze. Guinguette in Port-Méjean is a work by Eugène Baptiste Émile Dauphin (1857-1930). A member of the Academy of Marine Painters, the Toulon artist has very often painted marine sites in his region and has notably dedicated several paintings to Port-Méjean. The sea, the boats and the rocky shores of Cape Brun play the main role here, the tavern and its tiny customers being just one element set in the vast panorama that surrounds them.


The evidence of the tavern

Very popular since the 1880s, the open-air cafes experienced a new boom at the dawn of the 20th centurye century and then live the beginning of their "golden age". The improvement of transport, the development of advertising, increasing urbanization, but also the law of July 13, 1906 which established Sunday rest, explain, among other things, that the taverns are becoming real institutions. Although they initially attracted the working classes, these places of leisure and sociability quickly reached the middle and even relatively affluent classes.

If these establishments are spontaneously associated with the surroundings of Paris (Montmartre in the XIXe century, then the banks of the Seine and the Marne), there are in fact all over French territory, near urban areas. The Sea Breeze. Guinguette in Port-Méjean also shows the strong attraction of water, whether sea, river or river.

Finally, the two photographs almost suggest an essence of the tavern, an element so deeply rooted in lifestyles and minds that it acquires a kind of generic and recognizable obviousness. As the titles of the photos testify, it is not a question of singling out a place and a type of clientele, but of capturing a cultural practice that is invariable depending on the establishment. It is therefore understandable that the open-air café is also perceived and experienced as a place of democratic and fairly egalitarian sociability, unlike seaside resorts for example, a place where, if the prices are sorted, customers indulge in the same leisure activities.

  • cabarets
  • taverns
  • Hobbies
  • beach


Kali ARGYRIADIS and Sara LE MENESTREL, Live the guinguette, Paris, P.U.F., 2003.

Francis BAUBY, Sophie ORIVEL and Martin PENET, Memory of guinguettes, Paris, Omnibus, 2003.

Marc BOYER, History of mass tourism, Paris, P.U.F., 1999.

Alain CORBIN (dir.), The Advent of Leisure (1850-1960), Paris, Aubier, 1995.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Representing the open-air cafes"

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