Edouard Manet

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Edouard Manet—Impressionistic Artist

January 23, 1832, 7:00 PM, Paris, France (Source: Michel Gauquelin, Volume 4/706) Died of gangrene, April 30, 1883, in Paris, France.

(Ascendant and NN in Leo; MC in Taurus; Sun with both Uranus and Jupiter in Aquarius; Moon in Libra; Mercury in Capricorn with Neptune and Vertex also in Capricorn, conjuncted; Mars conjunct Venus in Sagittarius; Saturn in Virgo conjunct Juno also in Virgo; Pluto in Aries)


Black is not a color.

Color is a matter of taste and of sensitivity.
(Libra Moon)

I need to work to feel well.

Insults are pouring down on me as thick as hail.

It is not enough to know your craft - you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.
(Sun conjunct Neptune)

No one can be a painter unless he cares for painting above all else.

That's always been my principal concern, to make sure of getting regular sittings.

The attacks of which I have been the object have broken the spring of life in me... People don't realize what it feels like to be constantly insulted.

There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.

There is only one true thing: instantly paint what you see. When you've got it, you've got it. When you haven't, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.

You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real.

-to Claude Monet
You're on very good terms with Renoir and take an interest in his future - do advise him to give up painting! You can see for yourself that it's not his metier at all.

-on the work of Berthe Morisot
This woman's work is exceptional. Too bad she's not a man.

"A painter can say all he wants to with fruit or flowers or even clouds... You know, I should like to be the Saint Francis of still life."

"The country has charms only for those not obliged to stay there."

"Still life is the touchstone of the painter."

"Above all keep your colours fresh!"


Édouard Manet (portrait by Nadar)Édouard Manet (January 23, 1832 – April 30, 1883) was a French painter. One of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, his art bridged the divide between Realism and Impressionism. His early masterworks The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia engendered great controversy, and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism–today these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.

Édouard Manet was born in Paris in 1832 to an affluent and well connected family. His mother, Eugénie-Desirée Fournier, was the goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince, Charles Bernadotte, from whom the current Swedish monarchs are descended. His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge. His father wanted him to pursue a career in law also. His uncle, Charles Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and often took young Manet to the Louvre.[1]

From 1850 to 1856, after failing the examination to join the navy, Manet studied under the academic painter Thomas Couture. In his spare time he copied the old masters in the Louvre.

He visited Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, during which time he absorbed the influences of the Dutch painter Frans Hals, and the Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya.

In 1856, he opened his own studio. By this point, his style was characterized by its loose brush strokes, the use of diagonals, the simplified shapes, and the bright and flat colors. His paintings frequently had sharp cropping and often lacked a horizon line.

Manet adopted the current style of realism of his contemporaries, initiated by Gustave Courbet, painting subjects such as beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights. Mostly in his youth, he produced few religious, mythological, or historical paintings. Noteworthy exceptions include his Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Edouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832 in Paris into the family of August Manet, an officer in the Ministry of Justice, and his wife Eugénie-Désirée, née Fournier, daughter of a diplomat. His uncle, Edmond-Edouard Fournier, gave the boy his first lessons in drawing. In 1844-1848, Manet studied at the College Rollin, where he met his lifelong friend Antonin Proust. In 1848-49, he was trained as a sea cadet on a voyage to Brazil, but in April 1849 he failed his naval examinations and decided to switch to painting. He entered the studio of Thomas Couture, where he studied for 6 years, between 1850 and 1856. In 1856, he took a long travel through Europe.
After traveling in Germany, Austria and Italy to study the Old Masters, Manet finally found the answer to all his questionings and aspirations for light and truth in the paintings of Velasquez and Goya at the Louvre. Influenced by these masters and by the example of Courbet, a French realist painter, he gradually evolved a new technique which presented modern aspects by modern methods.
In 1861, his The Spanish Singer was accepted at the Salon and won an honorable mention. But his submissions to the Salon of 1863, The Picnic among them, were rejected and appeared at the Salon des Refusés. The large canvas became the focus of scandalized critical and public attention.
In October 28, 1863, Manet married Suzanne Leenhoff in Holland (See her portrait The Reading, on which Mme Manet is depicted being read to by Léon Koëlla). Manet’s wife was Dutch, two years his senior, and an excellent musician. She had been employed by August Manet to give Edouard and his brother Eugène piano lessons. After a relationship lasting more than ten years, Manet finally married Suzanne after his father's death. Léon Koëlla was Suzanne’s son, born in 1852. His father was almost certainly Manet, but he was presented as Suzanne’s younger brother. Manet painted Léon Koëlla several times, the most known canvas with him is Luncheon in the Studio, on which Léon Koëlla is the central figure.
An even greater scandal than that aroused by The Picnic, was caused by Olympia, shown in 1865. The public was infuriated not only by the style, but also by the subject of the picture. ‘A yellow-bellied courtesan’, ‘a female gorilla made of india-rubber outlined in black’, ‘the Queen of Spades after her bath’, ‘a parcel of nude flesh or a bundle of laundry’, and other similar characteristics appeared in newspapers. When words were exhausted some ‘enthusiasts’ tried to finish with the picture physically, and it was saved only thanks to being hung high, above the reach of the fanatics.
Although Manet was frequently in the company of members of the Impressionist group – Berthe Morisot, his sister-in-law since December 1874, Degas, and Monet in particular, and they regarded him as a leader, he had no wish to join their group. He was naturally irritated by the critics’ tendency to confuse him with Monet. Manet’s stylistic discoveries, such as ‘there are not lines in Nature’, which led to his abandoning of the conventional outline and his shaping the forms by means of color and subtle gradation of tints, decisively influenced the Impressionists, but their representation of light and optical reactions to color were different. Manet never painted what could be called a truly Impressionist picture.
In 1869, Manet met Eva Gonzalés, who became his student. During the Franco-Prussian War he joined National Guard; when in May 1871 he finally returned to Paris he found his studio partly wrecked. In 1873, his Len Bon Bock achieved considerable success at the Salon. In 1881, Manet exhibited his portraits of Henri Pertuiset and of Rochefort at the Salon, and obtained second class medal. The same year he was received into the Legion of Honor. In 1882, he exhibited for the last time at the Salon, showing Spring and Bar at the Folies-Bergère. After a long illness, which had been exhausting him for about 5 years, he died on April 30, 1883.


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