Manet. Not Monet. I love the work of Edouard Manet. The very first art book I ever bought as an adult was a compilation of his floral paintings. It was a gorgeous volume; small, but overflowing with the most beautiful flowers. Over the decades, sadly, I've lost it. But I still remember that little book distinctly. It was green and square, with pink peonies on the cover, if my old memory serves me correctly.
Edouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832 in P. aris, France, to an affluent family. His father was a well-known judge and her mother was descended from royalty. He knew he wanted to be an artist from a very early age. This kind of occupational premonition always amazes me. When I was little, I wanted to be a fireman. I used to race around the house with the garden hose.
Although Edouard knew he wanted to be an artist, his father wanted him to join the Navy. He put him on a ship and sailed him off to Rio de Janeiro. However, he failed to pass the examinations.
After a while, his father quit trying to force him out of an art career, and Edouard began taking art classes under the supervision of the famous Thomas Couture.
Edouard travelled to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands to study art and bolster his confidence in his artist ability. Upon returning home, he opened his own art studio. Most of his art work during the mid 1850's depicted scenes of contemporary French life and scenes from everyday situations. Cafès, bullfights, picnics in the woods, city streetscapes.
Then Edouard discovered the draw of historical and religious art and became painting various images of the suffering Jesus Christ. He also did a portrait of his parents that got very little attention. Older art critics called his paintings strange. They said his strokes were too loose, he lacked transitional tones, his detail was too simplified, and his images not as precise as other painters of his day.
His nude Olympia was the cause of much uproar and caused him to lose the following of the religious sector, who much preferred his suffering Christ portraits.
But his paintings caught the eye of the younger generation of his time because they were so different. Afterward, he rented a small studio apartment and continued painting until his death in 1883.
Edouard Manet is considered the first of the modern impressionist painters, a bold and influential artist whose reputation grew after his death.
He was given the Legion of Honor award by the French government in 1881. He thought it was the highest honor he had ever been paid in his life.
"Everything is mere appearance, the pleasure of the passing hour, a midsummer night's dream. Only painting, a reflection of the reflection, but the reflection, too, of eternity, can record some of the glitter of this mirage." - Edouard Manet.