The collection of French paintings is closed to the public at the moment due to the museum's preparations for this summer's major exhibition, Degas' Method.
Traditionally full-figure pictures were reserved for portraits of aristocracy and royalty, but Manet replaced this with something as doubtful as a drunken vagabond. Ironically, this man is dressed in a cloak and a top hat, as if he belonged among the higher echelons of society.
Manet was of tremendous importance to the modern breakthrough in figurative art with motifs such as this and because his painting technique was radically different from official ideals of the time.
In several places the painting’s surface is uneven and the individual brushstrokes visible, the shadows on the wall are not consistent with the figure and his legs are attached to his body in a curious manner.