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Manet 1832 - 1883

Edouard Manet: Young Flautist, or The Fifer, 1866Manet by Himself (*)

Edouard Manet - Biography

was born into the ranks of the Parisian bourgeoisie on January 29. His Mother, Eugenie-Desiree Fournier, was a woman of refinement and god daughter of Charles Bernadotte, the Crown Prince of Sweden. Edouard's father, Auguste Manet, was a magistrate and judge.

decided to be a painter. His Uncle Charles Fournier encouraged Manet's appreciation for the arts and often took him and his childhood friend, Antonin Proust, on outings to the Louvre

after serving in the merchant marines, Manet entered the studio of Thomas Couture where he studied until 1856. He was influenced by the old masters, particulary Velazquez, Goya and also Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Giorgione.

He met Baudelaire and began his career with The Absinthe Drinker (6th picture in the exhibition), a painting depicting a debauched and solitary man amongst the shadows of the back streets of Paris.

painted Spanish Guitar Player (7th picture in the exhibition), reflected the Parisian love of "all things Spanish" and was one of Manet's first works to be accepted by the Salon. İn the same year he painted the Old Musician, portray a darker aspect of Parisian life which was quite removed from Manet's circle, but nonetheless very real. Music in the Tuileries (9th picture in the exhibition list) peopled with Manet's friends and family celebrates fashionable society.

Manet put great emphasis on Salon acceptance. In fact, he believed that success as an artist could only be obtained through recognition at the Salon. But, the Salon jury of 1863 refused Luncheon on the Grass (8th picture in the exhibition). To counter these refusals, the Salon des Refuses was established and Luncheon on the Grass was exhibited there. He also painted Olympia (13th picture in the exhibition) this year and created a scandal.

The Fifer (1st picture in the exhibition) refused by the Salon jury. Emile Zola defended him in a controversial article for the periodical L'Evènement

Zola published a longer article on Manet, who that year exhibited his work in an independent pavilion at the Paris World's Fair.

Manet painted The Execution of Maximilian (15th picture in the exhibition) reaches out to Goya's Third of May but despite its masterly influence the painting was banned from being exhibited in Paris due to the "Frenchness" of the executioners costume. Political events between the years 1867-1871 were turbulent ones for Paris, and the Franco-Prussian war left Paris besieged and defeated.

Manet sent his family south to protect them from the fighting in Paris and signed on as a gunner in the National Guard.

The dealer Paul Durand-Ruel began buying his work.

He could hardly paint because of his ilness. From 1879 to 1882 Manet participated annually at the Salon.

He was given a solo exhibition at Georges Charpentier's new gallery, La Vie Moderne, Paris

In his last great masterpiece, Bar at the Folies-Bergère (38th picture in the exhibition), Manet returns again to studio painting. He was decorated with the Légion d'Honneur.

Manet died in Paris, on April 30

A memorial exhibition of his work took place at the Ecole des Beaux-Art.

Grand Hotel de Paris, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Sunday morning (3 September 1865)

How I miss you here and how happy it would have made you to see Velasquez who all by himself makes the journey worthwhile; the artists of all the other schools around him in the museum at Madrid, who are extremely well representyed, all look like shams. He is the supreme artist; he did not surprise me, he enchanted me. The full-length portrait we have in the Louvre is not from his hand. Only the Infanta is indisputable. There is a huge painting here, full of little figures like those in the Louvre picture called the Cavaliers, but with figures of women as well as men, perhaps of higher quality and above all completely unrestored. The landscape in the background is by a pupil of Velasquez.

The most extraordinary piece in this splendid oeuvre and possibly the most extraordinary piece of painting that has ever been done is the picture described in thr catalogue as a portrait of a famous actor at the time of Philip IV; the background disappears, there's nothing but air surrounding the fellow, who is all in black and appears alive; and the Spinners, the fine portrait of Alonso Cano; las Meninas (the dwarfs)(sic), another extraordinary picture; the philosophers, both amazing pieces; all the dwarfs, one in particular seen sitting full face with his hands on his hips, a choice picture for a true connoisseur; his magnificient portraits- one would have to go through them all, they are all masterpieces; a portrait of Charles V by Titian, which is highly regarded and which I'm sure I would have admired anywhere else, seems wooden to me here.


Manet painting videos

From: ghaile123

About this video:Edouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832 in Paris In 1844-1848, Manet studied at the College Rollin, In 1848-49, he was trained as a sea cadet on a voyage to Brazil, but in April 1849 he failed his naval examinations and decided to switch to paintingHe entered the studio of Thomas Couture, where he studied for 6 years, between 1850 and 1856. In 1856, he took a long travel through Europe. ...



Then there is Goya, the most originial next to the master whom he imitated too closely in the most servile sense of imitation. But still he's tremendously sprited. The museum has two fine equestrian portraits by him, done in the manner of Velasquez, though much inferior. What I've seen by Goya so far hasn't greatly appealed to me; in a day or so I'm to see a splendid collection of his work at the Duke of Osuna's… (p.41)

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Chateau de Vassé, Thursday 14 September (1865)

…At last, my dear Baudelaire, I've really come to know Velasquez and I tell you he's the greatest artist there has ever been; I saw 30 or 40 of his canvases in Madrid, portraits and other things, all masterpieces; he's greater than his reputation and compensates all by himself for the fatigue and problems that are inevitable on a journey in Spain. I saw some interesting things by Goya, some of them very fine, including an incredibly charming portrait of the Duchess of Alba dressed as a majo (sic)… (p.42)

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Chatateau de Vasse, 17 September (1865)

I'm back from my Spanish tour and am staying on for a few days. I'm planning to take a bit rest, because I had a great deal to see in a short time and came back to the family worn out. Your advice and excellent instructions guided me during my stay, so it's to you, first and foremost, that I owe an account of what I found there. What thrilled me most in Spain and made the trip worthwhile were the works of Velasquez. He's the greatest artist of all; he came as no surprise, however, for I discovered in his work the fulfilment of my own ideals in painting, and the sight of those masterpieces gave me enormous hope and courage… I was not at all impressed by Ribera and Murillo. They are definitely second-rate artists. Compared to Velasquez's portrait of the Duke of Olivares, Titian's Charles V looks like a dummy on a rocking horse. There were only two painters, apart from the Master, who attracted me: Greco whose work is bizarre, but includes some very fine portraits(I didn't like his Christ at Burgos at all) and Goya whose masterpiece seems to be in the Academy (The Duchess of Alba [in fact the Clothed Maja], what a stunning creation)… (p. 42-43)

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(L'Evenement illustre, 10 May 1868)

(During the portrait sessions) …I can't do anything without the model. I don't know how to invent. So long as I tried to paint according to the lessons I had learnt, I produced nothing worthwhile. If I amaount to anything today, I put it down to precise interpretation and faithful analysis. (p.49)


(c. 1868-70)
(A lesson in still-life painting for Eva Gonzales) Get it down quickly. Don't worry about the background. Just go for the tonal values. You see? When you look at it, and above all when you think how to render it as you see it, that is, in such a way that it makes the same impresssion on the viewer as it does on you, you don't look for, you don't see the lines on the paper over there do you? And then, when you look at the whole thing, you don't try to count the scales on the salmon. Of course not. You see them as little silver pearls against grey and pink - isn't that right? - look at the pink of this salmon, with the bone appearing white in the centre and than greys like shades of mother of pearl!

And the grapes, now do you count each grape? Of coursenot. What strikes you is their clear amber colour, and the bloom which models the form by softening it. What you have to decide with the cloth is where the highlights come and then the planes which are not in direct light. Halff-tones are for the Magasin pittoresque engravers. The folds will come by themselves if you put them in their proper place. Ah! M. Ingres, there's the man! We're all just children. There's the one who knew how to paint materials! Ask Bracquemond… Above all keep your colours fresh!... (p.54)

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(To friends posing for the Opera ball) How do you put on your hat when you do it without thinking and feel completely at your ease? Well then, do it the same way when you are posing, without any affectation. (p. 119)

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TOUT ARRIVE Wednesday evening (8 April 1874 postmark)

I very much appreciate your sympathy; I've had two paintings refused, the Opera ball and a Landscape with figures. They really are an ill-mannered lot, these artistic worthies! But if you are willing to help me a little, that is a great compensation. (p. 119)

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TOUT ARRIVE (12 April? 1874)

My dear friend, Thanks, if I had a few supporters like you, I wouldn't give a f… about the jury. (p.119)

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(To Jean Béraud, on Monet) ...Coquelin has a good eye, one day he will appreciate Claude Monet. There's not one of the school of 1830 who can set down landscape like him. And when it comes to water - he's the Raphael of water. He knows all its movements, whether deep or shallow, at every time of the day. I emphasise that last phrase, because of Courbet's magnificent remark to Daubigny who had complimented him on a seascape: "It's not a seascape, it's a time of day." That's what people don't fully understand yet, that one doesn't paint a landscape, a seascape, a figure; one paints the effect of a time of day on a landscape, a seascape, or a figure. (p.121)

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(Venice, winter 1874-5)

(On the encounter with Toché at Café Florian) I can see you're a Frenchmen… Heavens, how boring it is here! (On a motif for a picture near the Salute) I'll put in a gondola with a gondolier wearing a pink shirt and an orange scarf, one of those handsome fellows, as dark as a Moor.

… It's the most difficult thing, to give the impression that a hat is sitting properly on the model's head, or that a boat has been constructed from planks cut and fitted according to the rules of geometry.

(On planning a picture of the regatta at Mestre) When faced with such a distractingly complicated scene, I must first of all choose a typical incident and define my picture, as if I could see it framed. In this case, the most striking features are the masts with their flittering, multicoloured banners, the red-white-and-green Italian flag, the dark, swaying line of boats crowded with spectators, and the gondolas like black and white arrows shooting away from horizon; then, at the top of the picture, the watery horizon, the marked target and the islands in the distant haze.

I would first try to work out logically the differen values, in thir nearer or more distant relationships, according to spatial and aerial perspective.

The lagoon mirrors the sky, and at the same time acts as a great stage for the boats and their passengers, the masts, the banners, etc. It has its own particular colour, the nuances it borrows from the sky, the clouds, from crowds, from objects reflected in the water. There can be no sharp definition, no linear structure in something that is all movement; only tonal values which, if correctly observed, will constitute its true volume, its essential, underlying design.

The gondolas and other boats, with their generally dark colours and reflections, provide a base on which to set my watery stage. The figures, seated or in action, dressed in dark colours or brilliantly vivid materials, with their parasols, handkerchiefs and hats, appear as crenellated forms of differing tonal values, providing the necessary repoussoir and defining the specific character of the areas of water and gondolas that I can see through them.

Crowds, rowers, flags and masts must be sketched in with a mosaic of coloured tones, in an attempt to convey the fleetingly quality of gestures, the fluttering flags, the swaying masts.

On the horizon, right at the top, are the islands. There should be no more than a suggestion of the most distant planes, veiled in the subtlest, most accurately observed tints.

Finally the sky should cover and envelope the whole scene, like an immense, shining canopy whose light plays over all the figures and objects.

The brushstrokes must be spontaneous and direct. No tricks, you have to pray to the God of all good, honest artists to come to your aid!

(On painters and schools) Spain is so simple, so grandiose, so dramatic, with its bone-dry stones and green-dark trees! Venice, when all's said and done, is just a decor…

(On Veronese's Triumph of Venice in the Palazzo Ducale) It leves me cold! Such wasted effort, such empty expanses! No emotion whatsoever! I love the Carpaccios with their naive charm like illuminated books of hours. And… the Titians and Tintorettos in the Scuola di San Rocco are imcomparable…But in the end, you see, I always come back to Velasquez and Goya!

(On Tiepolo) They're so boring, these Italians, with their allegories, their characters from Jerusalem delivered and Orlando furioso, with all that showy bric-'a-brac. An artist can say everything with fruit and flowers, or simply with clouds… (p.124)

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We're on the wrong track. Who was it who said that drawing is the transcription of form? The truth is, art should be the transcription of life. In other words, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, they do fine work but a lousy job…

An artist must be a 'spontaneist'. That is the proper term. But in order to achieve spontaneity, you must muster your art. Trial and error won't get you anywhere. You must translate what you feel, but your translation must be instanteous, so to speak. One talks of l'esprit de escalier, or taking a belated step with a witty retort. No one has ever talked of l'escalier de l'esprit, or the steps that lead to wit and wisdom. Yet so many people try to climb them and never succeed in reaching the top, given the difficulty of getting there at a single bound. The fact is, you always find that what you did yesterday is no longer in harmony with what you are doing today.

Personally, I am not greatly interested in what is said about art. But if I had to give an opinion, I would put it inthis way: everything that has a sense of humanity, a sense of modernity, is interesting: everything that lacks these is worthless. (p.202)

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Concision in art is a necessity and a matter of elegance. The concise man makes you think; the verbose man is a bore. Always aim for concision… Look for the essential areas of light and shade in a figure; the rest will fall into place, often with no greater effort. And because nature can only give you factual information, you must cultivate your memory which will act as a safety net and save you from falling into banality… You must always lead the dance and provide entertainment. Don't make it a chore, no, never a chore!... (p.202)

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If Bacon's definition, that art is man added to nature, homo additus naturae, is an absolute truth, you still have to be sure that nature is what you've got. Even the most faithful memory is no substitute.

(On colour and line) …without punctuation there can be no spelling nor grammar, and its absurd to try and distinguish between colour and line.

…It's true I don't draw the sort of stupid lines one is taught at the Ecole (des Beaux- Arts). But just ask the illustrious professors who teach there to sketch in a picture with a feeling for light in their fingertips. I defy them to do it. There is such a radiance and mobility in the atmosphere that envelops everything in its dazzling splendor! Try telling that to people who pin a figure on a canvas as one pins a butterfly in a display case.

(On a portrait by a fashionable artist) I can see, of course, that he has painted a frock coat. And this frock coat is impeccably cut. But where are the sitter's lungs? He isn't breathing under it. He has no body. It's a portrait for a tailor. (p.202)

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Thank you for having thought of me, but I can not take any pupils. Anyway, what would I teach you? Nothing; or at least a very few things that can be summed up in a couple of words: black does not exist, that's the first precept; don't do anything that is seen through someone else's work, that's the second. So go back home and paint from nature, which is much more important than Messrs X,Y and Z. (p.203)

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You can do plein air painting indoors, by painting white in the morning, lilac during the day and orange-toned in the evening. (p.203)

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(On Robert-Fleury Senior [1797-1890], béte noire of Impressionist painters) Isn't he ever going to leave us in peace, that old monster with one foot on the burnt sienna ground and the other in the grave! (p.203)

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When Degas was painting Semiramis (in the early 1860s), I was painting modern Paris. (p.203)

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(to visitors to Manet's studio) Just look at this Degas, this Renoir, this Monet! Ah my friends, what talent!(p.203)

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(Art Monthly Review, 30 September 1876)

(Originial English translation from the lost French text) Each time (one) begins a picture… (one) plunges headlong into it, and feels like a man who knows that that his surest plan to learn to swim safely is, dangerous as it may be, to throw himself into the water… No one should paint a landscape and a figure by the same process, with the same knowledge, or in the same fashion; nor what is more, even two landscapes or two figures. Each work should be a new creation of the mind. The hand, it is true, will conserve some of its acquired secrets of manipulation, but the eye should forget all else it has seen, and learn anew from the lessons before it. It should abstract itself from memory, seeing only that which it looks upon, and that as for the first time; and the hand should become an impersonal abstraction guided only by the will, oblivious of all cunning. (p.204)

(*) All quotations from book edited by Juliet Wilson-Bareau, Manet By Himself, Time. (Page numbers noted after quotation.)



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