Heavy Night? Not at all. This fabulous oil by Theodore Ribot dates is a picture of a Laudanum Den.
Theodore Ribot was a french realist painter working in the mid 19th century. The drug of fashion at that time was laudanum, a highly addictive opium preparation. Initially a working class drug, laudanum was cheaper than a bottle of gin or wine, because it was treated as a medication for legal purposes and not taxed as an alcoholic beverage.
Laudanum use was not regarded as addiction in the Victorian Period, merely a habit and there was no moral condemnation towards users. But when “Dark England” and the opium dens in London's East End began to seep into popular press, books and, as Ribot's painting demonstrates, art, people began to campaign against unregulated use.
This painting is a great example of mid 19th century social commentary,
John Stocks @ AM Fine Art