Edouard Manet born 23 January 1832, Paris. Died 30 April 1883, Paris (aged 51).

Manet wanted to belong, be recognized by society, but only on his own terms. He was no stranger to society, his father being a senior civil servant and his mother the daughter of a diplomat. Appearing a bit of a dandy he was tougher than appeared, because though craving official recognition he never modified his style for the sake of success.

Dejeuner sur l’Herbe isn’t about naked women in the woods, it’s about friends passing time together and, obviously, how they passed it. The painting was rejected by the Salon of 1863, but hung in the Salon des Refuses ordered by Napoleon III.

And he didn’t paint his Olympia to shock, he painted it because whores were a part of the social fabric of the day. It hung in the Salon of 1865.

In the view of most he is linked strongly to the Impressionist, yet never exhibited with them. In 1881 the French government awarded Manet the Légion d’honneur.

I find his unswerved desire for recognition, on his terms, to be inspirational.


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