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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A is for Absinthe and Art

 A is for absinthe in art and the art of absinthe.
Absinthe  is a chartreuse green liquer distilled from anise, fennel and wormwood plants. The herbs are soaked in alcohol and distilled to separate the herbal oils and alcohol from the water.  The oil and alcohol mixture is then recondensed  down to whatever proof is desired by the maker. Generally absinthe is between 110 - 144proof (approximately 55 - 75 percentpure alcohol)  The chartreuse green color is a result of the chlorophyll in the herbs.

Absinthe is known as The Green Fairy.   In the early 1900's absinthe was banned in France, Switzerland, the United States and many other countries because it was said to be associated with all types of illicit behavior, hallucinations, convulsions, addiction and death..  Absinthe is no longer a banned substance.  It is now understood, that contrary to the belief at the time, that being wormwood's hallucinagenic qualities,  the incredibly concentrated level of alcohol in the drink was the cause of alcoholism and acute alchohol poisoning.

Many of the artists in the Impressionist and Post Impressionist era found inspiration in absinthe, both as a libation of choice and as a subject in their work. Edouard Manet,Charles Baudelaire,Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin all produced paintings that depicted the people and places where absinthe could  be found.  And, images of the effect absinthe had on those who chose to drink with 'The Green Fairy'.

(Just, as a side note, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, writers of the times, also indulged in a bit of absinthe inspiration.)
Here are some absinthe themed paintings from that time -

And, finally, here is one of the reasons I love to participate in Alphabe-Thursday.  When I look around and decide on my subject each week, I come across things that I find interesting and sometimes delightful.  In this case,  I came across this work by Vincent Van Gogh,  'The Absinthe Glass'- which I have never seen before!  

Want to join us as we start off on a new round of Alphabe-Thursday?  Click on the link to the right to connect with Jen Matlock's site and get in on the fun.


  1. I knew of absinthe but not the history, nor the artwork influnced by it! Thank you so much for sharing!

    I'm joining for the first time this week.

    A is for Assateague

  2. Love this post! It will make me look at my wormwood plants in a whole new light.

  3. Fascinating post. Now I know about absinthe something I didn't know before. Thanks!

  4. I think I'd love Absinthe as I LOVE Anise. MMM. Very nice art too.

  5. I don't know what happened, but I lost my comment. Here I go again, but you might get it twice. That was a very interesting post.

  6. Absinthe sounds like some pretty potent stuff.

    The pieces of art inspired by absinthe are absolutely amazing!

    I am definitely looking forward to another adventure through the alphabet with you.

    Thanks for linking.