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Interior of a Café

Santiago Rusiñol, Spanish, 1861 - 1931


Oil on canvas

39 1/2 x 32 inches (100.3 x 81.3 cm) Framed: 51 1/2 × 44 1/4 × 3 inches (130.8 × 112.4 × 7.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 159, European Art 1850-1900, first floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 1078

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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The artist and writer RusiÑol was one of the founders of the turn-of-the-century Spanish Modernista movement. He and his colleagues, including the young Pablo Picasso, regularly met for lively discussions in a small Barcelona café. The figures populating the café in this painting, however, appear silent, solitary, and preoccupied with their own thoughts. The dull colors and enclosed space reinforce a sense of isolation.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    A painter, writer, and collector active in the modernista movement in Spain, Santiago Rusiñol from 1889 divided his time between Paris and Barcelona, where he was a founder of the avant-garde art group El Quatre Gats, and a friend and confidant of the young Pablo Picasso. In 1892 Rusiñol exhibited this picture in Paris as The Aquarium, the name referring to a Barcelona café whose walls were painted a vivid aquamarine. The dark realism of the image and the isolation of the principal figure, most likely a prostitute far gone in drink, recall the Parisian café scenes of Edgar Degas, while the high-keyed coloration and poetic stylization of forms anticipate Picasso's own works of his so-called Blue Period a decade later. The painting was bought in Paris in 1892 on behalf of the great Philadelphia collector John G. Johnson. Best known for his early Italian and seventeenth-century Dutch paintings, Johnson was also an important patron of the art of his own time, including the latest currents emerging in Europe. Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 205.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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