Biography: Édouard Manet
Despite coming from an upper-class background and leading a bohemian lifestyle, Manet was driven by the desire to scandalize the French Salon audience with his contempt for academic traditions.
The most influential artist to have obeyed poet Charles Baudelaire's appeal for artists to become painters of modern life was Édouard Manet. Despite coming from an upper-class background and leading a bohemian lifestyle, Manet was driven by the desire to scandalize the French Salon audience with his contempt for academic traditions and astonishingly contemporary depictions of urban life.
He has a lengthy history of being linked to the Impressionists; he significantly impacted them and absorbed a lot of knowledge from them. However, experts have recently noted that he also absorbed ideas from 17th-century Spanish art and the Naturalism and Realism of his French contemporaries. His dual interest in modern realism and the Old Masters gave him the essential groundwork for his groundbreaking methodology. (The Art Story, n.d.)
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Édouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832, in the vibrant metropolis of Paris and came from a prosperous family. His father was a respected judge, and his mother had royal blood, so they were both well-known in their area.
Early in his youth, Manet realized he wanted to be an artist, and he received encouragement from his uncle to pursue this goal. He went to the Louvre with his uncle, where they both gained more motivation to hone their creative abilities. He chose to enroll in a painting course in 1845 after being persuaded to do so by his uncle. At that time, he met Antonin Proust, a fellow art lover, and the two quickly became close friends.
Although Manet became passionate about the arts, his father had other intentions for him. To join the Navy, he had to sail to Rio de Janeiro. To the surprise of his father, he did poorly on the exams. But his failure also forced his father to reevaluate his expectations for the young Manet, and he quickly caved into his son's desire to pursue a career in the arts.
Manet thus received the unique chance to pursue an art education under Thomas Couture's guidance. To improve his knowledge and creative abilities, Manet visited several nations, including Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany. His experiences on his travels have influenced how he views different art forms and genres. He also drew influence from several other painters, such as Titian, Caravaggio, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Diego Velazquez. (Édouard Manet: Paintings, and Biography of Édouard Manet, n.d.)
His early attempts at realism, the vogue at the time, are well shown in the picture "The Absinthe Drinker," which he created. Despite his success with realism, Manet started experimenting with a looser, more impressionistic manner. He picked ordinary people going about daily as his subjects, painting them with broad brushstrokes. On his canvases, singers, street performers, gypsies, and beggars were shown. Some were taken aback by this unorthodox concentration, while others were charmed by the sophisticated understanding of the great masters.
He set up his easel outside and stood for hours while sketching a stylish gathering of city people for his "Concert in the Tuileries Gardens," also known as "Music in the Tuileries." When he displayed the artwork, some people believed it was incomplete, while others got the message. The picture "The Luncheon on the Grass," which he finished and displayed in 1863, is maybe his most well-known work.
Several jury members who selected works for the annual Paris Salon, the official exhibition held by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, were horrified by the sight of two young men in clothing sitting next to a woman in a naked position. They declined to display it because they believed it to be indecent. Manet was not the only picture to be sent away; more than 4,000 others were. Napoleon III responded by creating the Salon des Refusés to display some of those pieces, including Manet's entry. (Biography, 2014)
Manet began holding court at the Café Guerbois every Thursday in 1866, after moving into his home on the rue des Batignolles. Henri Fantin-Latour, Edgar Degas, Emile Zola, Nadar, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and, by 1868, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley joined him there.
All gathered together as independent-minded avant-garde artists to establish the tenets of their new artistic approaches during the gatherings of what Zola called "the Batignolles Group," which comprised various personalities, attitudes, and social classes.
The frequent gathering of such brains and skills created a great deal of mutual influence and a vast mingling of ideas that might be claimed to have impacted everyone. However, Manet, Monet, and Renoir soon emerged as the founders of what would be known as Impressionism, and Manet was an early leader with his avant-garde realism.
His works, The Fifer (1866) and The Tragic Actor (1866), was rejected by the Salon of 1866. Manet responded by hosting an open display in his studio. For this avant-garde decision, for which he was sacked, Zola published an editorial about Manet in L'Evenement. After being sent away from the Paris Exposition Universelle, Manet opted not to submit anything to the Salon the following year.
Instead, he put up a tent next to Courbet's to display his artwork outside the Exposition, where he was harshly chastised again. Manet was interested in Spanish culture when he painted a group of Spanish performers in 1861. After traveling to Spain in 1865, he was influenced by Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya's artwork. His writing style and the topics he covered both demonstrated this.
Manet, a devoted Republican, disapproved of Napoleon III's administration. He connected the French government to Maximilian's terrible demise in Mexico with the 1867 picture The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, which compositionally cited Goya. This piece was deemed too politically charged, and the public display was prohibited.
The introduction of Manet to the Morisot sisters by Henri Fantin-Latour in 1868 marked another important meeting. The relationship between Manet and Berthe Morisot, a painter, was at best strained. She became his pupil, earned his esteem as a painter, and even served as a frequent model for him. Although there had been a long-term, shared attraction, a real relationship was not conceivable (both were from proper families; Manet was married, and Morisot only saw him with a chaperone).
Morisot was shocked to learn that Manet had once painted and tutored the young Eva Gonzales. Ultimately, Morisot wed Eugene, the younger brother of Manet, to prevent any household strife (who was undoubtedly not the charismatic star that Manet was). As a result, their connection was virtually over, although Morisot continued to be Manet's strongest supporter.
Manet's importance to modern art is illustrated in Fantin-A Latour's Studio at Batignolles (1870), which shows a group of admirers, including Monet, Zola, Bazille, and Renoir, watching Manet paint in his studio. Manet enlisted in the National Guard while several friends, like Monet, fled to London to avoid the Franco-Prussian War. Due to political circumstances, Manet was compelled to avoid Paris over the following several years; he only briefly visited during the Versailles Repression.
Later, after being compelled to abandon his ruined studio, he established himself on the rue de Saint-Petersbourg in 1872. With his contribution to Argenteuil (1874), which had a brighter color scheme and the influence of Monet's Impressionism, Manet infuriated the Salon again in 1875. Argentueil, which Manet submitted to the Salon to reach people who had not seen the group's groundbreaking show in 1874, served as a kind of manifesto for the newly emergent aesthetic. (The Art Story, n.d.)
Manet has had significant medical issues since 1880. So he chose to rent a property in the more serene area of the Paris suburbs. In this location, he painted the last of several portraits of his wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, which he had already begun. Even after his premature death in 1883, he still deeply loved the arts. Along with 420 works, Manet also left a legacy that eternally establishes him as the founder of modern art and a daring, significant figure. (Édouard Manet: Paintings, and Biography of Édouard Manet, n.d.)
The Art Story. (n.d.). www.theartstory.org. Retrieved July 24, 2022, from https://www.theartstory.org/artist/manet-edouard/
Édouard Manet: Paintings, and Biography of Édouard Manet. (n.d.). www.manet.org. Retrieved July 24, 2022, from https://www.manet.org/
Biography. (2014, April 2). www.biography.com. https://www.biography.com/artist/edouard-manet