"Speculation has concerned an assistant of Manet who committed suicide in Manet's studio more than a decade earlier. Another suicide proposed to be connected with the painting was that of an artist whom Émile Zola had written about in 1866."
To be frank, Manet is not generally one of my favourite painters but this painting of his is different. I like paintings that tell stories or more specifically, paintings that hint at a number of different sequences of events that led to this moment. You can stare at it and imagine a thousand different 'befores' and a thousand different 'afters'. It creeps me out and I think that's the intent of good art. To provoke.