Manet

Manet

Manet

Manet

Excerpt

M ANET has a place all his own in the history of art. Not only was he a very great painter, but he cut himself off from the painters who preceded him, opening up the age we live in today, the age we call Modern Times. Completely out of step with his own, he shocked and scandalized his contemporaries, to whom his painting came like a bolt out of the blue. The word "revolution" might describe this irruption and the completely new outlook behind it, were it not for the misleading political implications almost inseparable from such a word.

The difference between Manet and the other artists of his day can be summed up in two points.

First, a Manet canvas, by its very nature, conflicted with everything that a painting was, at the time, commonly expected to be. Duranty, a critic of the period, stated the case as follows: "At any exhibition," he wrote in 1870, "even from many rooms away, there is only one painting that stands out from all the rest: it's a Manet every time. One is apt to laugh, for the effect is queer when a single thing differs from all the others."

The second point to be made is no less arresting. Never prior to Manet had the breach between the taste of the public and changing types of beauty--which art continually renews-- been so conclusively final. With Manet began the days of wrath, of those outbursts of scorn and derision with which, ever since, the public has greeted each successive rejuvenation of beauty. Others before him had roused indignation; the relative unity of classical taste had been all but shattered by Romanticism, while Delacroix, Courbet, and even Ingres, for all his classicism, had set the public laughing. But the laughter that lay in wait for Olympia was something unprecedented; here was the first masterpiece before which the crowd fairly lost all control of itself.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.