Édouard Manet

A portrait of Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) was a French painter and one of the initiators of the modern age of art. He was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. He had an unconventional approach to his art and his technique was known to be made up of quick and decisive strokes, often applied directly from the tube.

Manet was born in Paris on 23 January, 1832, and he had an upper-class background, with his father serving as a high-ranking civil servant. He began his art studies at the studio of painter Thomas Couture, who taught him how to draw and paint realistically. After several years of study with Couture, Manet enrolled at the prestigious government school, the École des Beaux Arts, where he would copy the old masterpieces in the Louvre.

Manet quickly established his reputation and style in the French art world. He often painted scenes of city life, often featuring leisurely activities such as cafe scenes and outdoor gatherings which highlighted a distinct social consciousness. In 1856, Manet exhibited in the Paris Salon for the first time and garnered a great deal of critical attention for his work, both positive and negative.

In the following years, Manet's work continued to attract an enormous amount of attention from the art world and the public at large. He enjoyed the patronage of prominent figures such as Emperor Napoleon III, who bought his paintings and provided him with commissions. Manet also traveled extensively throughout Europe, visiting places such as Spain and Holland, and was exposed to a variety of artistic innovators and movements.

In 1863, Manet's masterwork, Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, was presented at the Salon des Refusés. The painting was controversial for its unconventional style and subject matter and sparked fierce debates about the boundaries between art and obscenity.

Throughout the 1860s, Manet produced a number of large-scale works of considerable quality, often with a critical eye towards society and its conventions. These works included Luncheon in the Studio, The Fifer, The Races at Longchamp, Music in the Tuileries and The Execution of Maximilian. He also created a number of smaller works, genre scenes and still lifes, which demonstrate the artist's ability to work with a variety of materials and techniques.

In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War forced Manet to abandon his studio in Paris and flee to safety in Brittany. Although he was away from the city, Manet's reputation as a major modern artist only grew, as the art scene of Paris increasingly embraced his new approach. After the war, Manet returned to the capital and resumed his artistic activity.

Throughout the 1870s, Manet was simultaneously exploring various motifs of modern life, such as the café culture, horse racing, and even the chasm between classes. In 1874, he painted one of his most famous works, Olympia, which depicted a nude woman in a state of languid repose, provoking the same debates that Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe had.

In 1882, Manet married his longtime partner, Suzanne Leenhoff, and the two were very close until Manet's death a year later. During these financial times, Manet was able to continue his career and produce beloved works such as The Bar at the Folies-Bergère, which demonstrated his bold brushwork style.

Manet’s health began to deteriorate due to syphilis in the 1880s, but he continued to paint and exhibit for a time. He suffered a series of strokes in 1882, however, and died the following year in Paris. Manet's influence on modern art during his lifetime and afterwards has been immeasurable, and his works are some of the most iconic in the history of painting.

Edouard Manet's artwork is a great choice for decorating your living space because of its timeless quality. Manet's artwork is an iconic representation of the art world that has stood the test of time. His works have been highly admired by art scholars, historians, and art lovers alike, thanks to the bold and often controversial subjects that he took on. His use of vibrant colors and bold brush strokes also gives his artwork a captivating quality that will add a unique touch to your living space.