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Modern Inventions
The putative father of Impressionism present 140 works mostly coming from the Musee d'Orsay collection in an exhibition that reveals little known aspects of artistic influences to the general public…


Published on Monday, July the 4th, 2011

A research path, rather than a retrospective, in which are arisen the bonds with romanticism, literature and friendship that Edouard Manet (Paris, 1832-1883) had with his contemporaries. The exhibition is in fact introduced by Hommage à Delacroix by Henri Fantin Latour, in which Manet'sis portayed, among others, next to Charles Beaudelaire who is present with articles and drawings, including am auto portrait, and his friend and rival Alphonse Legros, here with La vocation de Saint François. The exhibition, curated by Stephane Guegan, curator at the Musée d'Orsay, is set around nine sections with the desire to show the complex relationship between history and modernity that reflected "in his determination to revolutionize the history of painting in the public space where it mostly acquires its meaning, "says the curator.


 Trained at the workshop of Thomas Couture, of which a dozen works are exposed, Manet rejected its mannerism soon in order to make academic choices pushed by an innovative interest in the political events of his time. As a fervent Republican he painted the Execution of Maximilian (1867), in The End of History section, which refers, in the composition, to the artwork May 3rd, 1808 by Francisco Goya. But here's the beautiful Olympia (1863), in the Beaudelaire’s Time’s section, embodied by Manet’s favourite model, Victorine Meurent. The famous art piece is introduced by the Négresse (1862 to 1863, Turin, Pinacoteca Agnelli) and Femme au chat, ( 1862-63), both subjects are present in the painting. The same model is found in La Chanteuse des rues, (1862, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts) but also in the famous Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe (1862-1863), exhibited at the show of Refusés in 1863, after being rejected at the official Salon, then mocked and considered scandalous. A suspected Catholicism? Is a section which discovers a lesser known aspect of Manet: the influences are those of Fra Angelico, Andrea del Sarto and Velázquez. Here we find Christ insulté par les Soldats (1865), but also Le Christ aux anges (1864, NY, Metropopolitan Museum) which refers to The Trinityby El Greco. Highlight of the From Prado to the Alma’s section is The bullfighter death (1864, Washington, National Gallery of Art), a fragment of a bullfight scene that Manet cut to intensify visual perception. Finally, The promises of a face, the section which takes its title from the formula introduced by Beaudelaire "to identify the desire and frustration through the series of portraits depicting Berthe Morisot." 


This painter, Morisot herself, will soon become one of Manet’s favourite models., we find her for the first time in Le Balcon (1868-1869) along with other friends such as Manet violinist Fanny Claus and landscape architect Antoine Guillemet. The painting will be at the Salon of 1869. The exhibition ends with Evasion de Rochefort (1881, approximately), which is a history painting that, in contrast to the traditional preference for representations and ancient mythology, places the hero in a boat that is barely perceptible at the mercy of the waves. Modern and innovative, Manet was a great painter who wanted to be there where the daily routine would become history.

livia de leoni

show visited on May 15th, 2011

Practical information

Opening times: daily, except Mondays, 9.30am – 6pm 

(ticket desks close at 5pm), 

Thursdays until 9.45pm and Saturdays until 8pm

Admission: museum entrance ticket: full rate: €10; concessions: €7.50

Access: through the main entrance, 1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris


- Manet, the Man who invented Modernity, Exhibition catalogue by Stéphane Guégan, Musée d'Orsay/ Gallimard, 336 pages, 280 illustrations, €42 approx.

- The Danger of Manet, exhibition album, Stéphane Guégan, Musée d'Orsay / Gallimard, 48 pages, €8 approx.

- Manet, Heroism and Modern Life by Stéphane Guégan, Découvertes Special edition, Musée d'Orsay / Gallimard, 40 pages, €8.40


Reserved Reproduction