Menzel was often compared to his French contemporaries, usually in the search for a German counterpart to the French Impressionists, even perhaps for a precursor. However one-sided this view may have been, his Théâtre du Gymnase cannot be dissociated from thoughts of theater scenes by Daumier and, above all, Degas, although the latter did not even exist when Menzel painted this work. Menzel had visited Paris for the first time one year previously and ever after called it “Babel.” The notion of an excited but anonymous audience in the confusing artificial light leaves less opportunity for narrative detail than in Menzel’s later scenes of town life. But already in this work, there is no clear central focus of attention: from the actors playing a musical comedy in contemporary dress to the stalls and the boxes, everything seems to be peripheral. The transience of the motifs is in no way commensurate with the drama of the colour combination — reminiscent of Delacroix — of blue, red, and golden-yellow.