Today's Birthdays: January 23
1832–1883, French Painter.
French painter, born in Paris. Rather than study law Manet went to sea. On his return to Paris in 1850 he studied art with Couture. He was influenced by Velázquez and Goya and later by Japanese printmakers. 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 two nude women is remarkably forthright and has not lost its power to shock. Manet's masterpiece, Olympia (1863; Musée d'Orsay), also a suggestive painting of a nude, 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. Manet was clearly influenced by stylistic elements from Japanese painting and the objectivity of photography. This 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 a companion in Zola, who lost his position on a newspaper because he defended the painter. Manet profoundly influenced the impressionist painters. He is often called an impressionist himself, although he declined to exhibit his work with the group, and except for a short time he did not employ broken color or sketchy brushstrokes. He 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 understood and appreciated, and his works were hung in the Louvre. Today examples are to be seen in the most important European and American galleries. 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.
See the 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), P. Courthion (1962), G. H. Hamilton (1954, repr. 1969), and John Richardson (1982).
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