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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
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
In 1861, his The Spanish Singer was accepted at the Salon
and won an honorable mention. But his submissions to the Salon of 1863,
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
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
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.
Henri Perruchot. La vie de Manet. Hachette, Paris. 1959.
French Paintings from the Hermitage, Leningrad. Aurora. Leningrad.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat by Beth Archer Brombert. University
of Chicago Press, 1997.
The Still-Life Paintings by Henri Loyrette, Musee D'Orsay,
Walters Art gall, George L. Mauner. Harry N Abrams, 2001.
Last Flowers of Manet by Andrew Forge, Robert Gordon. Harry
N Abrams, 1999.
: The Still Life Paintings by George Mauner. Harry N Abrams,
Olympia: A Woman's Search for Manet's Notorious Model & Her Own Desire
by Eunice Lipton. >Cornell University Press, 1999.
Modernism: or, The Face of Painting in the 1860s by Michael Fried.
University of Chicago Press, 1998.
of Art: Manet by Pierre Courthion. Harry N Abrams, 1984.
The French Taste for Spanish Painting by Gary Tinterow, Genevieve
Lacambre, Deborah L. Roldan. Yale University Press, 2003.
and the Sea by Juliet Wilson-Bareau, David Degener. Yale University
'Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe' (Masterpieces of Western Painting)
by Paul Hayes Tucker. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Manette by Carol Armstrong, Edouard Manet. Yale University Press,
Views of Manet's Bar by Bradford Collins. Princeton University
Press , 1996.