The Impressionists

The Impressionists

The Impressionists

The Impressionists

Excerpt

Of Édouard Manet's personal appearance we know that he was of average height, that he wore a short, square beard, that he had fair hair and vivacious deep-set eyes. His manners were smooth and courteous, and he was always well dressed, in the fashion of his time. As to the appearance of his pictures, we find the following description in an article written by Émile Zola in 1867: "His paintings are light-coloured and luminous, with a concrete and tangible pallor. The light in them is white and wide-spread, casting a gentle glow over the objects depicted."

His personal appearance and demeanour give scant indication of his human qualities, and in the some way the luminous aspect of his pictures is of little importance in determining their place in art. The latter seems to me to have been admirably defined by Paul Valéry--though it is true that he gives no grounds for his statement--in the following words: "The fame of Manet's name was assured by the quality of his admirers, and above all by their diversity. These devotees of his painting, differing so widely in character, united in asserting that his place was among the great masters, among those men whose art and authority have endowed the flowers of a day, the changing fashions, the bodies of human beings and the fleeting glances of their eyes with a kind of permanence which will endure for centuries, and a spiritual and interpretative value which may be compared with that of a sacred text."

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