Born in a family of large officials. He began to draw in college. Opposing the intended lawyer career, he entered the maritime school. In 1848 he went on a hike on a ship in Rio de Janeiro. At the beginning of 1850, together with his friend at the gymnasium, A. Proust (in the future, the author of memoirs about Mans), he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Paris with T. Couture, a famous master of salon and academic art, famous for the painting “Romans of the Decline” (1847, Louvre Museum). Unlike many of his contemporary innovators, who did not stay long in the workshops of professors, Manet spent six years with Couture, mastering the skills of a clear drawing and its modeling with color, the laws of compositional construction. Manet travels a lot, visits the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, and later Germany, Spain and England. As in the collections of the Louvre, he is always interested in the “secrets” of painting by old masters, mainly Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Hals, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Watteau and Chardin, and among the new ones – Delacroix. Often he makes copies of his favorite works, sometimes quite arbitrary. Having destroyed the work performed in the Couture workshop, he decides to start working independently, is exhibited in the Paris Salon.
Manet and Baudelaire. Spanish theme
The first significant work is the painting “Absinthe Lover” (1858-1859, Well, Carlsberg, Glyptotek, Copenhagen), in which, in the tradition of Velazquez painting, a declassed drunkard is presented – the heir to romantic vagrants; the plot of the picture could be inspired by the influence of S. Baudelaire, whom the artist met at that time. In the traditions of the old masters, the Portrait of Parents was also performed (1860, private collection, Paris), executed as a genre painting; Mane was one of the first artists to notice the estrangement of people from each other, the characters depicted by him are nearby, but as if they do not pay attention to the environment. At the same time, the artist is developing a “Spanish” theme. So, he creates “Lola from Valencia” (1862, Musee d’Orsay, Paris) – a portrait of a Spanish artist on the background of theatrical scenes, “a treasure with pink-black shimmer” (Baudelaire). The “Spanish” cycle also includes “Guitarroro” (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and “Quiz Meran in Espada Suit” (ibid.). The fascination with the Spanish theme is noticeably weakening after a trip to Spain in 1865. The painting “Music at the Tuileries” (1860, National Gallery, London) is an image of a smartly dressed crowd in a shell of a domestic genre.
Breakfast on the Grass and Olympia
In 1863, Manet painted the painting “Breakfast on the Grass” (Musee d’Orsay, Paris), which was called “Bathing” in the infamous Salon of the Outcast, which exhibited works that were not accepted by the official jury. Destroying the traditional canons of everyday painting, in particular, refusing a clear plot motivation, Manet took advantage of the iconographic motifs of Titian’s Concerto (attributed to Giorgione in the 19th century), Watteau’s Pilgrimage to Kieferu Island and Courbet’s Girls on the Seine to build the composition – an engraving by Raimondi from Raphael’s drawing “The Court of Paris”. In the same year, Manet wrote “Olympia” (Musee d’Orsay, Paris). In the image of a naked woman presented here on a bed (as in “Breakfast on the Grass”, this is Quiz Meran; a black cat is placed at the woman’s feet – a Baudelaire symbol from the “Flowers of Evil”), reminiscent of the traditions of the genre by Giorgione, Titian, Velazquez, Goya and Ingres, there are also signs of a new time – features of a puppet and a fetish. Examples of “pure” painting include the “Flutist” (1866, Musee d’Orsay, Paris). In the 1860s, Suicide (private collection), Landscape with a hearse (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Christ and the Angels (ibid.), And Dead Torero (National Gallery, Washington) were created. The painting “Battle of Kirsedge” and “Alabama” (1864, Museum of Art, Philadelphia) represents a naval battle of two American ships of the army of northerners and southerners, near Cherbourg. In 1867, Manet built his own pavilion at the world exhibition in Paris, for which he creates, not without Goya’s influence, the painting “Shooting of Emperor Maximilian in Queretaro”, which tells about the inglorious death of the protege Napoleon III on the Mexican throne.
Rapprochement with Zola, Monet and the Impressionists
After the death of Baudelaire, the artist draws close to E. Zola, writes his portrait. In the painting “Balcony” (1868, Musee d’Orsay, Paris) Mans, combining the principles of the genre of everyday life with a portrait, again shows the estrangement of people from each other. In 1874 – in the year of the first exhibition of the Impressionists, Manet travels “to the small capital of Impressionism” – Argenteuil, where K. Monet and O. Renoir work. He is fascinated by the possibilities of plein air painting, the smear in his paintings becomes more fragmentary, able to sensitively capture and convey the nuances of the changing life of nature. However, Manet does not fully accept the principles of the new art, as evidenced by the painting “Argenteuil” (1874, Museum of Fine Arts, Tournai). In “Nana” (1877, Kunsthalle, Hamburg), the artist creates the image of a kept woman in the spirit of Zola’s novels; a certain “novelism” is also felt in the painting “With Papa Latuille” (Museum of Fine Arts, Tournai)