Manet, Édouard

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Manet, Édouard

(ādwär` mänā`), 1832–83, French painter, b. Paris. The son of a magistate, Manet went to sea rather than study law. On his return to Paris in 1850 he studied art with the French academic painter Thomas CoutureCouture, Thomas
, 1815–79, French academic painter. He was a pupil of Gros and Delaroche. He achieved fame with his vast orgy painting, Romans in the Decadence of the Empire (1847; Louvre).
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. Manet was influenced by VelázquezVelázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
, 1599–1660, b. Seville. He was the most celebrated painter of the Spanish school. Early Life and Work
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 and GoyaGoya y Lucientes, Francisco José de
, 1746–1828, Spanish painter and graphic artist. Goya is generally conceded to be the greatest painter of his era. Early Life and Work

After studying in Zaragoza and Madrid and then in Rome, Goya returned c.
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 and later by Japanese painters and printmakers and the objectivity of photography.

In 1861 the SalonSalon,
annual exhibition of art works chosen by jury and presented by the French Academy since 1737; it was originally held in the Salon d'Apollon of the Louvre. By the mid-19th cent. the Salon had become an expression of conservative, established tastes in art.
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 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 a nude and a partially clad woman picnicking with two fully dressed men is enduringly strange and remarkably forthright, and has not quite lost its power to shock. Manet's masterpiece, Olympia (1863; Musée d'Orsay), a supposedly suggestive painting of a nude courtesan, 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. The 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 companions in ZolaZola, Émile
, 1840–1902, French novelist, b. Paris. He was a professional writer, earning his living through journalism and his novels. About 1870 he became the apologist for and most significant exponent of French naturalism, a literary school that maintained that
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, who lost his position on a newspaper because he defended the painter, and MallarméMallarmé, Stéphane
, 1842–98, French poet. Mallarmé's great importance is as the chief forebear of the symbolists; the influence of his poetry was particularly felt by Valéry.
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. Manet's late paintings are mainly portraits, genre scenes, and still lifes. Charming and stylish, they have none of the shocking qualities of his early and now more highly regarded paintings.

Manet profoundly influenced the impressionist painters (see impressionismimpressionism,
in painting, late-19th-century French school that was generally characterized by the attempt to depict transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, and by the use of pure, broken color to achieve brilliance and luminosity.
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). He is sometimes called an impressionist himself, although he declined to exhibit his work with the group, and except for a short time he did not employ impressionism's typical broken color or sketchy brushstrokes. Rather Manet 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 widely understood and appreciated, and his works were hung in the Louvre.

Today examples of Manet's paintings are represented in the most important European and American collections. 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 BaudelaireBaudelaire, Charles
, 1821–67, French poet and critic. His poetry, classical in form, introduced symbolism (see symbolists) by establishing symbolic correspondences among sensory images (e.g., colors, sounds, scents).
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 and a series of illustrations based on PoePoe, Edgar Allan,
1809–49, American poet, short-story writer, and critic, b. Boston. He is acknowledged today as one of the most brilliant and original writers in American literature.
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's Raven.


See biographies by V. Perutz (1991) and B. A. Brombert (1995); 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, 1983), P. Courthion (1962), G. H. Hamilton (1954, repr. 1969), J. Dufwa (1981), J. Richardson (1982), and K. Adler (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Manet, Édouard


Born Jan. 23, 1832, in Paris; died there Apr. 30, 1883. French artist. Son of a government official.

Manet spent most of his life in Paris, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1850-56), studying with T. Couture. He was influenced by Italian Renaissance and 17th-century masters, such as Giorgione, Titian, Velázquez, and F. Hals, whose works he copied, as well as by F. Goya and E. Delacroix. In Manet’s early works (late 1850’s to early 1860’s), which are a gallery of incisively rendered types and characters, a lifelike authenticity of image is generally combined with a romantic treatment of the model’s external appearance (Absinthe Drinker, 1859, New Carlsberg Sculpture Gallery, Copenhagen; Lola of Valencia, 1862, Museum of Impressionism, Paris). Manet used and reinterpreted the themes and motifs of the old masters, seeking to relate them to modern life and to resolve new problems in painting. Thus, there are contemporary figures in Lunch on the Grass (1863, Museum of Impressionism), and the theme, which was suggested by Giorgione’s Rural Concert (draped and nude figures against a landscape), is imbued with an unusual, somewhat contradictory, emotional intensity. A highly creative interpretation of nature and a striving for extratemporal artistic formulas combined with a capacity for capturing the spirit of an age for the viewer distinguish the painting Olympia (1863, Museum of Impressionism), in which the model for the classical, usually mythologized nude is clearly a mundane mid-19th century Parisienne.

During the 1860’s, Manet’s painting gradually became free of the opaque, dense tones and black shadows that characterized his early works. But the outlines preserve and even intensify the contrasts between dark and light, imparting a flatness to the representation. The artist’s manner became at once freer and more elaborate, and the texture of his paintings was increasingly enriched with transparent reflections and values. In the 1860’s, Manet turned to themes of modern history (Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867, State Art Gallery, Mannheim). Later, repeating this compositional theme, he responded to the events of the Paris Commune of 1871 (Execution of the Communards, watercolor, 1871, Budapest Museum of Fine Arts). At the same time, Manet’s intense interest in modern life was revealed in scenes seized from everyday life and almost devoid of action, yet full of lyrical spirituality and inner meaning (Lunch in the Studio, New State Gallery, Munich; and The Balcony, Museum of Impressionism, both painted in 1868). Portraits similar to the latter works in their general treatment also reveal his interest in contemporary events (Portrait of E. Zola, 1868, Museum of Impressionism).

Giving new life to 19th-century genre painting and poeticizing what at first glance appeared to be ordinary situations and the world of objects surrounding man, Manet brought out the secret harmony of being. Manet, whose art anticipated the rise of impressionism, became close to the impressionist masters in the late 1860’s (E. Degas, C. Monet, and A. Renoir). In the early 1870’s he took up plein-air painting. A number of his works (Argenteuil, Museum of Fine Arts, Tournai, and Monet and Madame Monet in a Boat, New State Gallery, Munich; both works painted in 1874) show the features of this method (deliberately fragmented composition, saturation with light, and a brilliant, vibrant color spectrum). However, Manet differed from the impressionists. He preserved a constructive clarity of drawing, which organized the planes rhythmically; he continued to use gray and black tones; and, on the whole, he did not abandon genre painting, with its literary and associative substructure.

With rare powers of observation, Manet selected the most characteristic moments from the hectic, checkered life of a great city, from a kaleidoscope of instantaneous mise-en-scenes. Attracted not only to their picturesque effect but also to their psychological content, he raised various phenomena to the level of the typical, synthesizing his observations and revealing the comic, sad, or even tragic aspects of events (Masquerade Ball at the Opera, 1873, Havemeyer collection, New York; Nana, 1877, the Hamburg Art Gallery). In his most important and significant work, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1881-82, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London), which is devoted to the theme of the illusory quality of happiness, the clash of dreams and reality, and loneliness in a crowd, Manet attains total unity of concept, elegantly ingenious composition, and painterly content.

In the 1870’s he concentrated on portraiture, treating it from the same point of view as his thematic compositions, expanding its possibilities, and transforming it into an exploration of the inner world of contemporary man (Portrait of S. Mallarme, 1876, Museum of Impressionism). He also painted still-lifes and landscapes and worked as a graphic artist, lithographer, and etcher.

Manet’s art is among the phenomena that consummated and, at the same time, revived the realistic tradition in 19th-century French art. In many ways the artistic problems first enunciated and solved by Manet determined and directed the artistic quest of the succeeding historical period.


Zola, E. Eduard Mane. Leningrad, 1935. (Translated from French.) [Barskaia, A.] E. Mane. Moscow, 1961
Eduard Mane: Zhizn’ Pis’ma, Vospominaniia: Kritika Sovremennikov. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from French.)
Jamot, P., G. Wildenstein, and M. L. Bataille. Manet, vols.1-2. Paris, 1932.
Hamilton, G. H. Manet and His Critics. New Haven (Conn.) and London, 1954.
Venturi, M., and S. Orienti, L’opera pittorica di Ed. Manet. Milan, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.