‘Manet: Portraying Life’ has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art and is the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. The exhibition consists of more than 50 of his works, a vast number of which were ‘never exhibited in his lifetime’ (and maybe should never have been exhibited).
Born into an upper class household with strong political connections, Manet rejected the future originally envisioned for him, and became engrossed in the world of painting. He married Suzanne Leenhoff in 1863. The last 20 years of Manet’s life saw him form bonds with other great artists of the time, and develop his own style that would be heralded as innovative and serve as a major influence for future painters.
Manet’s ‘Olympia’ is one of my all time favorite paintings but…
If you were not already familiar with Manet’s painting I think you would get the wrong impression from this exhibition – the quality of the majority of the paintings is ‘second rate’ at best and most definitely not typical of his work. This exhibition has done him a massive injustice, threatening his status as an important innovator. He is one of the greatest artists ever but this exhibition portrays him as a mediocre one – a massive shame.
I think you have to view this exhibition as ‘work in progress’ or ‘paintings to be resolved’.
The painting of Berthe Morisot is one of the ‘stars’ of the show and does the man credit. Morisot herself is credited with convincing Manet to attempt plein air painting, she also became his sister-in-law when she married his brother, Eugene…
Unlike the core Impressionist group, Manet maintained that modern artists should seek to exhibit at the Paris Salon rather than abandon it in favor of independent exhibitions. Nevertheless, when Manet was excluded from the International Exhibition of 1867, he set up his own exhibition. His mother worried that he would waste all his inheritance on this project, which was enormously expensive. While the exhibition earned poor reviews from the major critics, it also provided his first contacts with several future Impressionist painters, including Degas.
Manet’s Olympia (which is in the Musée d’Orsay) is an important painting. In 1974 at Stourbridge College of Art I did a series of paintings based on ‘Page 3 models’ and I was intrigued how Manet’s Olympia … Continue reading ?