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A project for my Honors Art History class.

Édouard Manet

Honors Art History

Jessica Bride

Introduction

In the interest of exploring an artist from the 18th or 19th century mentioned in the 7th unit of my Art History Honors class, I chose Édouard Manet. I made this booklet to explore not only work that shaped the world of art but also the artist behind them. I will discuss Manet's background, the style of art he utilized, the impact of his art style, and six of his important paintings. The final pages of this booklet will include an analyzation of my two favorite works of his. To ensure accurate and interesting information, the last page will list my resources. I hope you enjoy and learn something new.

Summary of Life

Focus on Beginnings

In Paris, France on January 23rd, 1832, Édouard Manet was born to a wealthy judge, his father, and a mother linked to royalty by blood. He grew up privileged by wealth and inspired by the city of his childhood: Paris. Paris was even the place he would die in on April 30th, 1883. Manet was the oldest child and, therefore, his father hoped for him to become respected in the community. His father's plans meant joining the navy, however, and Édouard Manet was forced to travel to Rio de Janeiro where he would take the entrance examinations. Except, Édouard Manet failed the training school's exams twice. While there is no information on whether the failing was intended, it worked in Manet's favor as he was then allowed to return to Paris to study art. His uncle, in fact, has sparked young Manet's interest in art by taking him to visit the Louvre. Manet met Antonin Proust, a later good friend, after joining a drawing course in 1845 at his uncle's request. Édouard Manet married Suzanne Manet (frequently modeled in his work) who had been his piano teacher and they had an illegitimate child, Leon, in 1852, before they married in 1863.

Summary of Life

Focus on Art

After being allowed by his father, Manet's pursuit of an art career excelled when Thomas Couture made him his student. By traveling to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, Manet took in different culture's perceptions of art. He focused on artists including Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, and Caravaggio to draw inspiration from. Initially, Manet's confidence led to the opening of his first art studio that reflected realism from Gustave Courbet. At Parisian Salons, Manet showed off his pieces. The Spanish Singer received him the Salon's honorable mention in 1861. He was twenty-nine. The Salons furthered criticism of Manet's works (even refusing pieces) but he was not discouraged and continued painting. The other form of artwork Manet pursued was printmaking, or etching, and his works date to the 1860s.

Thomas Couture, teacher of Édouard Manet

Style: Realism

Development of Manet's Style

Realism emerged as an art movement after the French Revolution during the 1850s in France. It is defined as a revolt "against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism and drama of the Romantic movement" ("Realism"). During Édouard Manet's early and mature time as an artist, realism was still a less popular style of painting. Based in France himself, Manet's works are examples of the realism movement as he challenged Neoclassicism, the Enlightenment, and even the Industrial Revolution. He embraced emotion and adding realistic touches to the features of humans. For example, in The Dead Christ and the Angels the angels were depicted humanlike and critics were upset by this. Édouard Manet was acutely sensitive to modern existence and history. The flatness (his attention to volume) of his pictures, the approach in recognition of the revolution, and his conventional elements incorporated realism.

 

Style: Realism

Influence 

Spanish culture influenced Édouard Manet so much so that he produced pieces such as The Spanish Singer and Mademoiselle V. Gustave Courbet inspired beginning works especially in Manet's venture into everyday life. Contemporary themes grew into Manet's paintings as simplification became key in his depictions. Edgar Degas was a peer of Manet who which he admired the Louvre with. A close friend and inspiration, Claude Monet used to paint together and even had works presented in the first Impressionist exhibit. Those Manet influenced were mostly young artists of his time with his exemplifying that change in art should not be feared or discouraged.

 

Mademoiselle V...in the Costume of an Espada (1862)

Six Important Paintings

Title: "The Luncheon on the Grass"  ("Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe")

Date: 1863

Location: Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum) in Paris, France

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Six Important Paintings

Title:  "Olympia"

Date:  1863

Location: Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum) in Paris, France

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Six Important Paintings

Title: "A Bar at the Folies-Bergères"

Date: 1882

Location: Courtauld Gallery in London, England

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Six Important Paintings

Title:  "The Railway"

Date: 1873

Location: National Gallery of Art West Building in Washington, D.C., United States of America

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Six Important Paintings

Title:  "The Dead Christ with Angels"

Date: 1864

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Six Important Paintings

Title:  "The Spanish Singer"

Date: 1860

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Immediately with "Olympia", I was grabbed by the color of cream of the woman's bare body. The style of this painting is realism with the care in the shaping of Venus. The harsh shifts in tone stand out along with the contrast of color with the subject's black slave. I see a naked woman as a shout of prostitution, but a delicate portrayal of Manet's choosing. In the realistic style, the painting discards mythology and the idea that subjects like naked women are only appropriate and worthy if they are not real women. This piece was unexpected at the time of its production and still shocking but now it can be appreciated because modern audiences can look past historic criticisms, specifically the criticism that this piece is not based on Classical or Renaissance art. The harshness of leaving paint stokes visible and emphasizing the flatness correlates to his style. The aspect that appeals to me is the cultural importance of Manet's point in featuring this woman as beautiful and naked. It draws the viewer to address woman as important because the painting's subject is not perfect and looks confrontational. I was moved by her face because it looks so lifelike and the expression is undeniable because the viewer has to feel for her and imagine what led her to Manet's setting of a realistic Parisian apartment. It makes me think of women's struggle throughout history and it reminds me of their existence during time period's like Manet's where women were disregarded.

First Favorite Painting

Children in art are important in understanding the artist because it reflects the artist's like or dislike of kids and perhaps their relationship with their own parents. Also, children easily capture an artist's style because of the expected look of a child versus the artist's representation. In this painting, I see a woman holding a puppy and a book while sitting on a bench next to a young girl looking through a fence at a railway. The color blue definitely dominates "The Railway" specifically from the child's bow which is a focal point of the piece. The shading of the arms and face of both the woman and child, the woman's facial features, the spacing of the grates beyond the fence, and the blunt strokes throughout the piece reflect realism. At a modern bridge in a rebuilt Paris, the relationship between the viewer and the subject is pronounced the young woman's gaze portrayed in the contemporary fashion with industrial force almost acting as a subject with the smoke. The woman's eyes and facial expression appealed to me because she seems tired and bored like the expected every day feeling instead of glorified and powerful. I was moved the girl's lack of tension in grabbing the fence because her face is unavailable to the viewer and I want to know what or who she is waiting for. It makes me think of youth and how children always are impatient and look to the future expectantly but when we are older we get bored and long on the past. The two subjects reflect different stages of life like that.

Second Favorite Painting

Resources

"Édouard Manet." The Art Story. The Art Story Foundation. Web.

"Édouard Manet: Etchings." Original Prints: Etchings. MA Goetzke. Web.

"Édouard Manet and His Paintings." Édouard Manet: Paintings, and Biography of Éouard Manet. Web.

Rabinow, Rebecca. “Édouard Manet (1832–1883).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.

"Realism." The Art Story. The Art Story Foundation. Web.

Thank you for your time!