April 30, On This Day
Manet, an Impressionist herald
A pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, French modernist painter Édouard Manet was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life. Born in January 1832, he died on April 30 1883.
His early masterworks are today considered watershed paintings that mark the start of modern art — The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) and Olympia, both painted in 1863, caused great controversy at the time and served as rallying points for the young Impressionist painters of the future.
In the former, the painting’s juxtaposition of fully dressed men and a nude woman was controversial, as was its abbreviated, sketch-like handling.
In Olympia, Manet paraphrased a respected work by a Renaissance artist, a nude whose pose was based on Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) and reminiscent of Francisco Goya’s The Nude Maja (1800). The painting’s significance was appreciated by artists such as Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and later Paul Gauguin.
Manet painted numerous portraits, as well as café scenes are observations of social life in 19th-century Paris; many were based on sketches executed on the spot. Manet’s response to modern life also included works devoted to war.
The last 20 years of his life saw Manet form bonds with other great artists of the time, and develop his own style that would be heralded as innovative and serve as a major influence after his time.
He died after complications from syphilis and rheumatism led to gangrene and amputation.