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Edouard Manet Artist Biography

Édouard Manet was the elder statesman of the Impressionists, his unconventional subject matter drawn from modern life, and his concern for the artist's freedom in handling paint made him an important precursor of Impressionism. With several paintings that have inspired young artists during that era, he revealed how innovation is not always welcomed by the society, but it is one's gateway to the future. Discover the man who have lived through numerous criticisms to bring himself at the pinnacle of is success. Édouard Manet was born in 1832, the son of a department chief in the Ministry of Justice. He went to school in Poiloup in 1839, then to the Collège Rollin in 1842 to study drawing. After two years with the navy, Édouard Manet entered the studio of Thomas Couture in 1850 where he remained for six years. It is during this time that he studied the Old Masters at the Louvre including Diego Velsquez and Ribera. He also made trips to many museums throughout Europe to study the Old Masters was to be particularly influenced by the works of Dutch Frans Hals and Spanish Diego Velasquez and Francisco Jose de Goya.

In 1859, his first submission to The Salon "The absinthe drinker", with a Spanish resonance was refused, in spite of the favourable opinion of Delacroix, for the main reason that Edouard Manet used a traditional pictorial configuration (full-length portrait) to represent a marginal and socially discredited person. Two years later, he had a couple of paintings accepted including 'Le Guitarrero' (1861). In 1863, his 'Déjeuner sur l'herbe' (1863), thrown out by the Salon, caused a scandal with its perceived base morals, when it was exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. The public professed to be shocked by the subject of a nude woman blithely enjoying a picnic in the company of two fully clothed men, while a second, scantily clad woman bathes in a stream.

Despite his efforts, Édouard Manet’s modern scenes remained a target of criticism throughout the decade. Olympia (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) was considered the most shocking work in the 1865 Salon. This striking portrait, inspired by Titian’s “Venus of Urbino,” shows a lounging nude beauty who unabashedly stares at her viewers. The salon jury members were not impressed. They deemed it scandalous, as did the general public. Manet’s contemporaries, on the other hand, began to think of him a hero, someone willing to break the mold.

From 1866, Emile Zola, who was going to become his friend, will defend Manet' cause in "the Event" as well as the new artistic school which he names "Naturalism".

During the second half of the 1860’s, Manet became the most respected painter of a group of artists, writers and art lovers, who met at the "Café Guerbois", in the street of Batignolles.

If the young painters who were going to be the core of Impressionism, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, underwent the influence of Manet, those were in return to influence his art, making it more sensitive to light and colour effects. Édouard Manet was still to paint several masterpieces in this decade, such as "The fifre" (1866), "The reading" (1865-73), "The rest" (1870).

In 1874, the artist chooses not to take part to the first Impressionist show. He continued to exhibit regularly at the Salon where his notoriety did not cease to grow.

In 1877, Manet was again to cause criticisms with "Nana", a representation of a young woman, in underskirts and blouse, powdering herself in the presence of a man who awaits her, which will be refused at the Salon.

Manet will tardily gain some official recognition to which he had aspired: he will become in 1881 one "out of contest" of the Salon by obtaining a medal with "The portrait of Mr. Pertuisait", and will be made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, on proposal of his friend A. Proust, who had become Minister for the Arts.

In 1882, he was present for the last time at the Salon with "A bar at the Folies-Bergères" (Courtauld Institute Galleries, London), one of his most brilliant and famous work. He died in Paris on April 30, 1883, leaving an important work, including more than four hundred oil paints, many pastels and watercolours. "One must be of one's time and paint what one sees." Édouard Manet.

More art prints from Edouard Manet

The Balcony By Edouard Manet
Berthe Morisot Reclining By Edouard Manet
Olympia, 1863 by Edouard Manet
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