History Of Impressionism
The shock of the New
Ã‰douard Manet, 23 January 1832 â€“ 30 April 1883, was a French painter. One of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to 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.
Ã‰douard Manet was born in Paris on 23 January 1832, to an affluent
and well connected family. His mother, EugÃ©nie-DesirÃ©e Fournier, was
the daughter of a diplomat and 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 who expected Ã‰douard to pursue a
career in law. His uncle, Charles Fournier, encouraged him to pursue
painting and often took young Manet to the Louvre.
In 1845, following the advice of his uncle, Manet enrolled in a special
course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine
Arts and a subsequent life-long friend.
At his father's suggestion, in 1848 he sailed on a training vessel to Rio de Janeiro. After Manet twice failed the examination to join the navy,
the elder Manet relented to his son's wishes to pursue an art
education. From 1850 to 1856, Manet studied under the academic painter Thomas Couture, a painter of large historical paintings. In his spare time he copied the old masters in the Louvre.
From 1853 to 1856 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 VelÃ¡zquez and Francisco JosÃ© de Goya.
In 1856, he opened his own studio. His style in this period was
characterized by loose brush strokes, simplification of details and the
suppression of transitional tones. Adopting the current style of realism initiated by Gustave Courbet, he painted The Absinthe Drinker
(1858â€“59) and other contemporary subjects such as beggars, singers,
Gypsies, people in cafÃ©s, and bullfights. After his early years, he
rarely painted religious, mythological, or historical subjects;
examples include his Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.