Edouard Manet

Manet, Édouard

Édouard Manet (ādwär´ mänā´), 1832–83, French painter, b. Paris. The son of a magistate, Manet went to sea rather than study law. On his return to Paris in 1850 he studied art with the French academic painter Thomas Couture. Manet was influenced by Velázquez and Goya and later by Japanese painters and printmakers and the objectivity of photography.

In 1861 the Salon accepted his Chanteur espagnol. Two years later his Déjeuner sur l'herbe (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) was shown in the Salon des Refusés and was violently attacked; its depiction of a nude and a partially clad woman picnicking with two fully dressed men is enduringly strange and remarkably forthright, and has not quite lost its power to shock. Manet's masterpiece, Olympia (1863; Musée d'Orsay), a supposedly suggestive painting of a nude courtesan, was shown in 1865. It was met by outrage and abuse from critics and public alike. These paintings incorporated a number of technical innovations, which were themselves attacked by the academicians as heresy. The hostility of the critics attended Manet throughout his life, yet he never ceased to hope for acceptance from the art establishment. Fortunately he had some independent means, a strong following among his fellow painters, and companions in Zola, who lost his position on a newspaper because he defended the painter, and Mallarmé.

Manet profoundly influenced the impressionist painters (see impressionism). He is sometimes called an impressionist himself, although he declined to exhibit his work with the group, and except for a short time he did not employ impressionism's typical broken color or sketchy brushstrokes. Rather Manet worked in broad, flat areas, using almost no transitional tones, to show what the eye takes in at a glance. By 1900 his techniques and their results were widely understood and appreciated, and his works were hung in the Louvre.

Today examples of Manet's paintings are represented in the most important European and American collections. Among his many celebrated paintings are The Fife Player (1866), a portrait of Zola (1868), and The Balcony (1869), all of which are in the Louvre; part of the Execution of Maximilian (1867; Tate Gall., London); and Les Courses à Longchamps (Art Inst., Chicago). Manet also made many pastels, watercolors, and etchings, including graphic portraits of Baudelaire and a series of illustrations based on Poe's Raven.


See biographies by V. Perutz (1991) and B. A. Brombert (1995); catalog of his retrospective exhibition in Paris and New York (1982); catalogs of his pastels by J. Rewald (1947), graphic works by J. C. Harris (1970), and drawings by A. DeLeiris (1971); studies by G. Batailles (tr. 1955, 1983), P. Courthion (1962), G. H. Hamilton (1954, repr. 1969), J. Dufwa (1981), J. Richardson (1982), and K. Adler (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Edouard Manet: Selected full-text books and articles

Manet By Georges Bataille; Austryn Wainhouse; James Emmons Albert Skira, 1955
French Original Engravings from Manet to the Present Time By Claude Roger-Marx; André Gloeckner The Hyperion Press, 1939
The Impressionists By Ludwig Goldscheider; Wilhelm Uhde The Phaidon Press, 1937
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "Edouard Manet"
FREE! Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics By Julius Meier-Graefe; Florence Simmonds; George W. Chrystal G. P. Putnam's Sons, vol.1, 1908
Librarian's tip: "Manet and His Circle" begins on p. 257
FREE! How to Study Pictures By Charles H. Caffin Century, 1906
Librarian's tip: Chap. XXVI "Edouard Manet, 1833-1883, Impressionistic School of France"
Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1780 to 1880 By Fritz Novotny Penguin Books, 1960
Librarian's tip: Chap. 16 "French Impressionism"
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