The theme of this painting, Vanitas, or the fleeting nature of life symbolised by the soap bubbles, is given a unique interpretation by Manet, although aspects such as the dark background, the simple forms and the restrained nature of the composition appear to evoke a work of the same title by the eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Siméon Chardin.
Yet here, the allegorical content is not given precedence over the artistic autonomy of the visual discourse. Manet creates his own form of expression and, through the motif, asserts his sensorial perception, his subjectivity. Moreover, the theory that the work may constitute the artist’s reflection on the eternal nature of art cannot be dismissed.
It should also be noted that the model (Léon-Édouard Koëlla, Manet's stepson) appears various times in the artist’s work over a period of several years. Finally, the free and direct style of the whole, with its clearly defined figure accentuated by the contrast between light and shade, calls to mind the genius of great masters such as Murillo and Frans Hals.