Returning to a coffee shop

He doesn’t look too happy does he? But at least, although somewhat contorted in posture and attracting the attention of others, he has his coffee strong and black. He invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia for a seemingly lost world. In this case the mittel europa of the 1920s. He may even have a croissant at his elbow. I particularly like the evocation of the blue-violet-brown of the enclosing satin draping. This work is by the little known Croatian artist -Young Man in a Cafe, c.1923 by Marijan Trepše (1897 – l964). Born into the latter days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, you may read more about this artist and how he travelled to Prague via Paris at

It is unsurprising, looking at this painting, to read that this expressionist later became a significant set designer.

Image result for zagreb 1900

Using the magical utility of a reverse image search. There is a very useful such device a TinEye. I happened upon the following:-

Image result for Almada-Negreiros
Self-portrait in a group 1925 by Almada Negreiros

A larger version by this intriguing Portuguese artist may be found at

Much as I miss the congenial and convivial ambience of just sitting around and chatting away with friends, these characters do not exactly look very warm types. Their faces are mask like and reminiscent of harlequins. We certainly have had enough of face-masks. It is interesting how the hands link across the table but touch perhaps slightly. There seems something of considerable interest off-frame to the right. Nevertheless, something of considerable artistic import is being discussed. The juxtaposition of the feet seems a little more cosy and relaxed. It is the combination of tones such as the contrast between the brown of one gent and the blue of the artist which I find attractive.

It is interesting to compare and contrast these two painters who might well have met up over un petit café noir in Montmartre in the 1920s. They would certainly have much to talk about if they could converse easily.

By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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