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Édouard Manet

Manet, Édouard (ādwärˈ mänāˈ) [key], 1832–83, French painter, b. Paris. The son of a magistate, Manet went to sea rather than study law. On his return to Paris in 1850 he studied art with the French academic painter Thomas Couture. Manet was influenced by Velázquez and Goya and later by Japanese painters and printmakers and the objectivity of photography.

In 1861 the Salon accepted his Chanteur espagnol. Two years later his Déjeuner sur l'herbe (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) was shown in the Salon des Refusés and was violently attacked; its depiction of a nude and a partially clad woman picnicking with two fully dressed men is enduringly strange and remarkably forthright, and has not quite lost its power to shock. Manet's masterpiece, Olympia (1863; Musée d'Orsay), a supposedly suggestive painting of a nude courtesan, was shown in 1865. It was met by outrage and abuse from critics and public alike. These paintings incorporated a number of technical innovations, which were themselves attacked by the academicians as heresy. The hostility of the critics attended Manet throughout his life, yet he never ceased to hope for acceptance from the art establishment. Fortunately he had some independent means, a strong following among his fellow painters, and companions in Zola, who lost his position on a newspaper because he defended the painter, and Mallarmé.

Manet profoundly influenced the impressionist painters (see impressionism). He is sometimes called an impressionist himself, although he declined to exhibit his work with the group, and except for a short time he did not employ impressionism's typical broken color or sketchy brushstrokes. Rather Manet worked in broad, flat areas, using almost no transitional tones, to show what the eye takes in at a glance. By 1900 his techniques and their results were widely understood and appreciated, and his works were hung in the Louvre.

Today examples of Manet's paintings are represented in the most important European and American collections. Among his many celebrated paintings are The Fife Player (1866), a portrait of Zola (1868), and The Balcony (1869), all of which are in the Louvre; part of the Execution of Maximilian (1867; Tate Gall., London); and Les Courses à Longchamps (Art Inst., Chicago). Manet also made many pastels, watercolors, and etchings, including graphic portraits of Baudelaire and a series of illustrations based on Poe's Raven.

Bibliography

See biographies by V. Perutz (1991) and B. A. Brombert (1995); catalog of his retrospective exhibition in Paris and New York (1982); catalogs of his pastels by J. Rewald (1947), graphic works by J. C. Harris (1970), and drawings by A. DeLeiris (1971); studies by G. Batailles (tr. 1955, 1983), P. Courthion (1962), G. H. Hamilton (1954, repr. 1969), J. Dufwa (1981), J. Richardson (1982), and K. Adler (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: European Art, 1600 to the Present: Biographies


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