Born into wealth and privilege, Edouard Manet caused controversy with his portraits that often combined traditional and modern styles. Many of his subjects were of nude women in situations where fully-clothed men were looking upon them.
Unlike many struggling artists, Edouard Manet was born into a wealthy family and lived a very comfortable life. He did not need to sell his art to support himself. His father was a magistrate at the Ministry of Justice in Paris and opposed his son’s decision to pursue an art career. Manet loved art and began studying under the greatly admired Thomas Couture. His goal was to get his artwork accepted into the Salon, which approved paintings for the National Art Academy in France. He traveled and studied paintings in Paris, Holland, Germany, and Italy. The controversy surrounding Manet’s paintings influenced new artists. It inspired them to experiment and produce new and innovative paintings. These artists were called the Manets Group and their style of painting is called Impressionism. Edouard Manet died in 1883 on the night the Salon opened. The crowd was heartbroken to hear the news. He had been sick for months and his death was not a surprise.
In 1863, Edouard Manet’s famous painting Le dajeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), was rejected by the Salon. It was rejected because it contained female nudes surrounded by clothed polished men. It caused scandal as the women were perceived as being prostitutes. The famous Olympia painting caused mayhem. It portrays a nude courtesan lying on a bed with a black maid handing her flowers from a suitor. In addition, there is a black cat at the end of the bed. The uproar was because she and the cat are looking boldly at the viewers. The highly regarded, Portrait of Madame Brunet, was completed early in Manet’s career. It was painted in 1860 and reworked in 1867. It mixed traditional and modern artistic styles and is often referred to as the French Mona Lisa. The Masked Ball at the Opera, 1873, was a Manet masterpiece. He depicts the sophisticated part of Parisian life. His figures end abruptly at the edges of the painting.
- Manet’s mother was the daughter of a diplomat.
- Berthe Morisot was Manet’s student. She influenced him to paint outdoor scenes.
- http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/Le_d C3 A9jeuner_sur_l’herbe_(Luncheon_on_the_Grass)