Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Revolutionary French painter Édouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832, into an affluent Parisian family. Though pushed into the Navy by his father, he pursued studies in art instead and copied Old Masters in the Louvre and in Holland. He opened a studio in 1856 and was one of the first artists to heed poet Charles Baudelaire's call to paint modern life. His updating of genres and disregard for academic conventions pitted him against the Paris Salon and made him a key figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. Two pivotal works, “The Luncheon on the Grass” (“Le déjeuner sur l'herbe”) and “Olympia,” both shown at the Salon des Refusés in 1863, aroused great controversy, and are considered watershed paintings in the development of modern art. Manet’s loose, roughly painted style and outlining of figures deliberately draw attention to the picture’s “flat” surface and to the nature of the painting itself.