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• Biography •

ManetÉdouard Manet (January 23, 1832–April 30, 1883) is considered the father of impressionism. Utilizing the elements of light and without the confines of exact perspective, the impressionist movement created works with vivid brushstrokes and images of everyday subject matters and unique landscapes. Although considered to be the originator of this art category, Manet refused, even till the day of his death, to label his work as impressionistic.

Manet was born in Paris on January 23, 1832 and was the son of a high government official. As a young man, his father was trying to push him into studying law, but to avoid this, he became a sailor. Once done, he apprenticed himself to the academic French painter Thomas Couture. Also during this time, he visited the countries of Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands to study the paintings of the old masters. His own influences centered greatly on the Dutch painter Frans Hals and the Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco Jose de Goya. When he began his own body of work, he chose simple everyday subjects such as old beggars, street urchins, and Spanish bullfight scenes. He used bold direct brushstokes contrary to the norm of his time.

Manet's life as a painter seemed a cross between innovative creation and academic controversy. Manet's work seemed a constant source of irritation to many in the academic circles of his day. In his work, Olympia (1863, Musée d'Orsay), many complained of the realism to his nude, portraying his character with a real expression on her face instead of the angelic look of classic nudes. As well, the subject of this work was a well known Parisian socialite which further fueled the critics. But Manet was not one to worry about public opinion. His comment about Olympia was, "I paint what I see." He also was helped by the French novelist Emile Zola, who lent written support of Manet's art in the newspaper Figaro. From this support the two were to become lifelong friends.

Perhaps Manet's legacy was not only in the great body of work he produced, but also on his influence on other painters of his time. He seemed to take on the role of mentor and gave inspiration to many younger painters of his day including such future masters as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Cezanne. And as any true teacher, they in turn influenced his later works. Manet left many paintings numbering 420 oil paintings along with numerous watercolors and pastel studies. His work became very sought after late in his life and he was able to enjoy, if only for a short while the acclaim he deserved before he died in Paris in 1883.

• Artwork •

The Grand Canal (Blue Venice) (Click to enlarge)The Grand Canal (Blue Venice)
Manet was the first major artist since the Renaissance to fly in the face of proportion and perspective, omitting inconvenient visual facts if this gave his image greater force. He endowed ordinary scenes and subjects with a radiant reality concentrating on form and above all, on color. Following a visit with Claude Monet, he began to paint plein-air in an increasingly Impressionist manner.

Music in the Tuileries (Click to enlarge)Music in the Tuileries Manet painted a picture of people he knew enjoying themselves in the Tuileries Gardens. This was a painting of the sort of lifestyle which he enjoyed; music, conversation, dancing and fun. While the picture has been regarded as not very well finished by some, the atmosphere created gives the viewer a sense of what it would be like in the Tuileries gardens at the time; the music which would be playing, the conversation and the sounds of glasses clinking. The senses are very much a part of this work. The work includes a self-portrait. The painting shows people he knew personally; artists, authors and musicians. He based the work on a series of sketches which he did when he visited the Tuileries gardens and did sketches of people relaxing and playing.

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