The Wayward Wonders of Wormwood

“The Absinthe Drinkers” by Jean-Francois Raffaelli (1881) @ Through Vincent’s Eyes

The drunkenness it gives does not resemble any known drunkenness. It makes you lose your footing right away […] You think you are headed towards infinity, like all great dreamers, and you are only headed towards incoherence.

Alfred Delvau

Having only tasted absinthe (which has been described as “more of a soft drug than a drink” , “the green fairy”, and even 19th century Paris’s “national curse”) a couple of times, I’m not the world’s greatest authority on whether the above quote is true.

I will say, however, that Raffaelli’s painting of those who partake regularly in the substance seems rather on point.

As a painter, he was particularly interested in depicting workers, peasants, the homeless, or as Van Gogh observed, “these people who have come down in the world.” Both Vincent and his brother Theo greatly admired Raffaelli’s focus on the poor of the City of Light, and in exchange, did what they could to highlight his pieces in Theo’s gallery (Theo apparently also organized an exhibition of his paintings).

Yet again, Van Gogh noticed the few artists who were using their gifts to be a force for good, rather than pandering to the upper middle class (and even upper class) in search of an actual livelihood from their work.

I’m not saying that was the smartest approach, but the idealistic romantic in me is going quite gaga to have learned about it.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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