Édouard Manet - At the Cafe (Bock Drinkers)

Life and Paintings of Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883)

Édouard Manet (23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern and postmodern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) and Olympia, engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.

Life and Paintings of Édouard Manet (1832   1883)   Édouard Manet Luncheon on the Grass 1024x796

Édouard Manet – Luncheon on the Grass

Movements: Realism, Impressionism

Édouard Manet was born in Paris on 23 January 1832, to an affluent and well-connected family. His mother, Eugénie-Desirée Fournier, was the daughter of a diplomat and goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince Charles Bernadotte, from whom the Swedish monarchs are descended. His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law. His uncle, Edmond Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and took young Manet to the Louvre.

In 1841 he enrolled at secondary school, the Collège Rollin. In 1845, at the advice of his uncle, Manet enrolled in a special course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine Arts and subsequent lifelong friend.

At his father’s suggestion, in 1848 he sailed on a training vessel to Rio de Janeiro. After he twice failed the examination to join the Navy,his father relented to his wishes to pursue an art education. From 1850 to 1856, Manet studied under the academic painter Thomas Couture. In his spare time, Manet copied the old masters in the Louvre.

Life and Paintings of Édouard Manet (1832   1883)   Édouard Manet Olympia 1024x695

Édouard Manet – Olympia

From 1853 to 1856 he visited Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, during which time he was influenced by the Dutch painter Frans Hals, and the Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya.

In 1856, Manet opened a studio. His style in this period was characterized by loose brush strokes, simplification of details and the suppression of transitional tones. Adopting the current style of realism initiated by Gustave Courbet, he painted The Absinthe Drinker (1858–59) and other contemporary subjects such as beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights. After his early career, he rarely painted religious, mythological, or historical subjects; examples include his Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Manet had two canvases accepted at the Salon in 1861.

A portrait of his mother and father, who at the time was paralysed and robbed of speech by a stroke, was ill received by critics. The other, The Spanish Singer, was admired by Theophile Gautier, and placed in a more conspicuous location as a result of its popularity with Salon-goers. Manet’s work, which appeared “slightly slapdash” when compared with the meticulous style of so many other Salon paintings, intrigued some young artists. The Spanish Singer, painted in a “strange new fashion caused many painters’ eyes to open and their jaws to drop.”

A major early work is The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe). The Paris Salon rejected it for exhibition in 1863 but Manet exhibited it at the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) later in the year. Emperor Napoleon III had initiated The Salon des Refusés after the Paris Salon rejected more than 4,000 paintings in 1863. Manet employed model Victorine Meurent, his wife Suzanne, future brother-in-law Ferdinand Leenhoff, and one of his brothers to pose. Meurent also posed for several more of Manet’s important paintings including Olympia; and by the mid 1870s she became an accomplished painter in her own right.

0 comments