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Artists Who Died Before 50: Edouard Manet

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

artists-who-died-before-50-edouard-manet

Edouard Manet (1883-1932).

Artists are memory makers… or rather, memory keepers. What we do is immortalize a time, an era, a community, a person in a portrait. It is why we are still fascinated with a little known lady captured in the Mona Lisa. It is why an era that lasted a little more than 11 years and dancers who only danced 2 years at best, are immortalized forever in the posters of the Moulin Rouge by the artist Toulouse-Lautrec. It is why the era of this artist will be forever remembered. This is the artist who started the direction of the artists’ movement that has remained a favorite of people for a century: the Impressionist Movement.

This is the story of an artist who felt deeply the things of ordinary life in Paris: Edouard Manet (1883-1932).

Boy with Cherries

Boy with Cherries

There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.

— Edouard Manet

Forerunner of the Impressionists

Manet was a French painter who was considered the pivotal figure in the transition between Realism and Impressionism. He was the first 19th-century artist to begin painting modern life instead of symbolism, mythology and classical subjects. His work is considered the forerunner and origin of Impressionism although he didn’t really paint in the impressionist style that one would recognize today: that of Dega, Monet or Van Gogh. Instead, he opened the way for these great figures of the Impressionist movement.

artists-who-died-before-50-edouard-manet

Expected to Pursue a Law Career

He was born to an upper-class household with strong political connections. He was expected by his father to pursue a career in law but he had other ambitions, directed to art by his uncle. His father insisted he join the Navy but having failed the entrance exam twice, he had to relent to the boy’s wishes of pursuing art. Just imagine if he had become a French Naval officer, the direction of the art world may have been very different.

artists-who-died-before-50-edouard-manet

You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real.

— Edouard Manet

The Common Man's Painter

During his studies, he had opportunity to visit Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, where he was influenced by many painter’s works such as the Dutch painter Frans Hals, and the Spanish artist Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya. In those early years, his style was characterized by loose brush strokes and simplification of details. He began painting contemporary subjects such as beggars, singers, Gypsies, and people in cafes. The usual subjects for painters were religious, historical or mythological but Manet preferred to stay away from those subjects and paint the average people of the day. He also had a tendency to leave the figures less modeled by light and shadow and instead paint them as large shapes of color. His work was received in the annual art show, The Paris Salon, but was considered “slightly slapdash” when compared to the more meticulous style of other Salon paintings. This is the very thing that intrigues and inspired so many younger artists at that time.

The Balcony

The Balcony

No one can be a painter unless he cares for painting above all else.

— Edouard Manet

Exhibits and Rejections

Later what is considered some of Manet’s major works, such as The Luncheon on the Grass, was rejected by the Paris Salon and was not exhibited. Some considered this piece to be unfinished while at the same time the composition reveals his study of the old masters' style. The Salon challenged him to give a nude painting, to which he painted Olympia, a self-assured prostitute and it was accepted and exhibited. The public was so outraged and offended by the painting that only the precautions in the exhibit hanging prevented people from puncturing or tearing the painting. One of the things that were so unusual about his paintings is the lack of modeling, the manipulation of light and shadow. Many of the figures appear to have been cut out of colored paper and pasted on, which was something inspired by Japanese block prints: large areas of flat color. This is what made many people think the work was unfinished.

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Friends With the Impressionists

He became friends with the Impressionists, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro, and they drew him into their group and activities. He continued to seek to exhibit at the Paris Salon although the others wished to abandon it and pursue their own exhibitions. His mother worried that he would waste and exhaust all his inheritance on this artistic pursuit, which was proving to be expensive. Most of the Impressionists refused to use the color black, but Manet continued using it and continued exhibiting at the Salon. There were some critics who championed him in the press, among them Emile Zola, whom he in turn painted.

Black is not a color.

— Edouard Manet

Emile Zola

Emile Zola

Married Suzanne

After his father died, Manet married a young woman who had been employed by the family to teach piano and whom Manet had been romantically involved with for 10 years. She had a child out of wedlock and it is assumed that the child was either Edouard’s or his brother’s. The boy was used as a model in several of Manet’s paintings, as was his mother, Manet’s wife, Suzanne.

It is not enough to know your craft - you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.

— Edouard Manet

Died at 49

In his forties, Manet contracted syphilis which went untreated. He also suffered from rheumatism. In his final years, he was in considerable pain due to the side-effects of syphilis. He died at the age of 49.

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Spoofs

Like most famous artists and famous paintings, the begin to have a life of their own and then people can’t help but do a spoof on them, changing them just enough to make them funny or iconic. Manet was no different. Here is one of the many you can find spoofing his famous works.

The Reader

The Reader

Spring, sold at auction for $65 million dollars.

Spring, sold at auction for $65 million dollars.

Worth $65 million dollars.

I am an artist. I appreciate the stories and struggles that other artists have had to endure to make the mark in history that some of them have made. Many times it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Other times it is a matter of patience for when the public is ready for your style. I know that it seems like artists who are not very talented or who show no more talent than some others, achieve fame, however, it is a lot of chance, happenstance and who you know more than talent most of the time. In the case of Édouard Manet, he had the income from his family inheritance to support him until his artwork began to sell and pay off. He definitely had great talent but was not immediately appreciated by the public. Today you can buy a Manet print for under $20 (depending on size and frame) but the last original Manet (Spring) sold at auction for $65 million dollars. A bit out of my price range.

Artistic Comments Welcomed

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 10, 2016:

CorneliaMladenova,

Again we have things in common, friend. My father wanted me to study something I could "get a job at" so he insisted I take classes in secretarial skills. I obeyed but also took art courses. Eventually I did get a secretarial job but I hated it of course. What can I say. Our parents love us... Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Korneliya Yonkova from Cork, Ireland on February 10, 2016:

Oh, I love Edouard Manet. His style is incredible and I have always in my mind that adorable Le Fivre. It is so sad that such talented people sometimes commit really foolish things. If he hadn't contacted that awful disease he might have created much more magical paintings. And yes, I agree that black is not a color.

I have something in common with this amazing artist. My mother expected from me to have a law career so I had no choice but had to study jurisprudence and get the damned diploma. But guess what happened later :D

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 14, 2016:

Oztinato,

Thank you for your insights. Many artists were guilty of that. Whistler painted the most fabulous, luminous portraits of his models... all of which he was sleeping with. Yet he made them all very angry when he married his best friend's widow. I guess he must have intimated he would one day marry one of them. Men! Artists! Oh well. Thank you for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on January 13, 2016:

Paint

Manet's work is very close to my heart.

Many men in the nineteenth century were up to no good with women of all ages. Manet's father looks very suspect. Manet's personal life looks a secretive mess. I believe he visited many brothels in the middle east etc.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 13, 2016:

Oztinato,

Thanks so much for your insights. I think so too. I'm not sure about the mysteries about offspring but wouldn't be surprised. People in the public eye often get those type of whispers about them published but then... we are artists and a little bit of non-conformist by nature. Thank you for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on January 13, 2016:

Manet is one of my favourite painters. I was only thinking of him today and had to stop by the hub to have a look. Some say he had a darker side and there are hushed mysteries about offspring. His art reaches a pinnacle and is a wonderful blend of naturalism and impressionism. Part real part abstract.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 28, 2015:

lawrence01,

Well, I'm so glad I could be of service. You have to admit they had similar names, lived in the same area and in the same era, painting the same sorts of things. Very easy to get confused. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 28, 2015:

Denise

When it comes to artists I'm a bit of a Luddite. I had heard of Manet but thought the person meant Monet so thank you for clearing that up.

The paintings were beautiful!

Lawrence

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 22, 2015:

drbj,

As always, doc, my pleasured. I love artists and their tragic stories. It makes me feel like I'm going somewhere and the hurtles I've had to overcome may actually be good reading for someone someday. Sometimes we think of famous people as having been born famous, but they struggled and hoped and failed and tried again, just like all of us. It's so nice of you to visit all my artists' hubs. I appreciate the affirmation. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 22, 2015:

Manet and his creative paintings have always been among my favorites, Denise. Thanks for bringing the artist and his artistry to vibrant life.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2015:

BlossomSB,

I think my favorite is the people sitting by the shore. Looks like they just took a Sunday stroll by the water. It's so fresh and summery, plus I love the attention the guy is paying his girl. Haha. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on September 15, 2015:

I knew the difference between the two painters, but it was good to read more about Manet. I think my favourite was the Fife Player, but I'm not so sure now. Did you have a favourite?

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2015:

Thanks so much, Ann. I'd love to see that place. You are right, I could live in a museum. I got to see the Prodo in Spain... wow. It took three days to see it all and then I wanted to go back and see it all again. Isn't art fabulous? And seeing it in real life is NOTHING like the photos in books. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr from SW England on September 15, 2015:

I love Manet, Monet, Cezanne - all who come under this umbrella, so this is the perfect hub for me.

I saw most of these in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Only had a day there but I'll be back for more asap; I could live in that place!

Such a shame we didn't have the privilege of more of his work.

Ann

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2015:

florypaula,

Haha, you don't know how many people think the same thing. No they were two different men with different lives. Manet was short lived and Monet lived into his late 70's I believe. But the did live near each other and their lives overlapped so it is easy to get confused if you aren't into art. I'm so glad you like my series. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Paula on September 15, 2015:

I like your series of artists, they are insightful and nicely told. I did thought it was Monet and you might have accidentally misspelled. Funny :)

Nice hub.

Have a nice day Denise.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 15, 2015:

Larry Rankin,

Well, Larry, that makes you one of the precious few. Ha. Maybe it is because people like the work of Monet much better and also he lived longer, and painted the koi ponds and water lilies or whatever. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on September 15, 2015:

I'm a big trivia guy, so I was aware of the difference between Monet and Manet.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 14, 2015:

Rachel L Alba,

You know when I was younger I didn't really bother with artists too much either. I just wanted to do my own art. But later I saw merit in reading about how they lived and worked. That was when I couldn't afford to go to college anymore and the library was free... so I read everything on art that I could get my hands on. There is a lot of free information out there if a person really wants to learn. thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on September 14, 2015:

I never got into art that much, even though I love to look at paintings. I guess in those years there weren't the medicines that we have today or even the knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you.