Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Smidgen of Art History......... Edouard Manet 1832 - 1883

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882
Édouard Manet was born in Paris on 23 January 1832, to an affluent and well connected family. His mother  was the daughter of a diplomat and goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince. His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law, But it was his uncle, Charles Fournier, that encouraged him to pursue painting . In 1845, at the advice of his uncle, Manet enrolled in a special course of drawing met  life-long friend Antonin Proust.
At his father's suggestion, in 1848 he sailed on a training vessel to South America. After he twice failed to enter the Navy the elder Manet relented to his son's wishes to pursue an art education. From 1850 to 1856, Manet studied under Thomas Couture. In his spare time, Manet would make copies of the works of the 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 and spanish Painters.

Chez Père Lathuille, 1879
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 realistic style initiated by Gustave Courbet, he painted The Absinthe Drinker (1858–59) and other common  and everyday subjects such as beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights.

After the death of his father in 1862, Manet married Suzanne Leenhoff in 1863. Leenhoff was a Dutch-born piano teacher of Manet's age  whom he had been romantically linked to for nearly ten years. Leenhoff initially had been employed by Manet's father, Auguste, to teach Manet and his younger brother piano. It is believed that she was also  Auguste's mistress. In 1852, She  gave birth, out of wedlock, to a son, Leon Koella Leenhoff.
Eleven-year-old Leon Leenhoff, whose father may have been either of the Manets, posed often for Manet. and is seen in " The Boy Carrying the Sword" painted in  1861 (Now Housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). He also appears as the boy carrying a tray in the background of The Balcony

Young Flautist, or The Fifer,, 1866
Manet's paintings of cafe scenes are observations of life in 19th-century Paris. People are depicted drinking beer, listening to music, flirting, reading, or waiting. Many of these paintings were based on sketches executed on the spot. He often visited the Brasserie Reichshoffen on boulevard de Rochechourt, upon which he based At the Cafe in 1878. Several people are at the bar, and one woman confronts the viewer while others wait to be served.  These are painted in a style which is loose,  yet they capture the mood and feeling of Parisian night life. They are snapshots of the bohemian, and the vewryday life of The working people as well as the upper classes.

While his technique changed over time his love for his subject matter did not, he continued to paint with an eye to society as a whole and no one segment of it. He was as apt to paint a beggar in the street as he was a dandy at the opera. 

 He died at the age of fifty-one in Paris in 1883 of illness related to untreated syphillis, which he contracted in his forties. The disease caused him considerable pain and partial paralysis in the years prior to his death. He passed away  11 days after his foot was amputated due to gangrene.

Just a smidgen of Art History....

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