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

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Cat. 1078

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

Social Tags [?]

composition studies [x]   edward hopper [x]   serene interior [x]  

[Add Your Own Tags]

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.