What More Can We Say About Édouard Manet? Part 2 of 2
Édouard Manet was born about 10 years before most of the other painters who would later become known as The Impressionists. While that may not sound like many years, it was enough time for him to lead the way, to set precedents other Impressionists, and many other painters, would later choose to follow.
For example . . .
Before Gauguin painted this woman drinking alone in 1888 . . .
Before Picasso did it again in 1901 . . .
Before Hopper repeated the theme in 1927 . . .
Manet had already found the subject matter worthwhile when he painted a woman, alone with Plum Brandy in 1877:
Before Toulouse-Lautrec painted this social scene from a local bar in 1892 . . .
Or this one in 1889 . . .
Manet had already painted this one in 1879:
Before Romaine Brooks created this style of portrait in 1923 . . .
Or this one in 1914 . . .
Manet had expressed similar portraits in both 1882:
And in 1872:
Before Hopper began painting ordinary people sitting near bedroom windows in 1952 . . .
Or in 1932 . . .
Or Hockney did in 1970 . .
Manet had in 1871:
Before Monet painted his studio boat in 1876 . . .
Manet thought it worth painting in 1874:
Before Van Gogh painted Doctor Gachet in 1890 . . .
Manet had captured a similar sensibility in his portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé in 1876:
When Cassatt created this magnificent portrayal of a woman at sea in 1893 . . .
She probably created it in part, in response to Manet’s startingly similar perspective in his painting from 1874:
When Renoir created one of his most famous paintings in 1876:
He’d probably already been very familiar with Manet’s painting of an outdoor social music gathering from 1862:
That one painting preceded another does not necessarily mean one painting influenced another. That one painting was seen by a painter before he or she created their painting also doesn’t provide sufficient evidence of “influence.” But the many examples of similarities suggest many of Manet’s priorities and sensibilities were likely admired and emulated by subsequent, great painters and artists.
Manet took on the art establishment (and political establishments) of his day – at great risk. He challenged both his family’s traditions and the long-standing traditions of the art community. He’d grown up with wealth and in the company of the wealthy – and those things didn’t impress him. He didn’t spend his artistic talents glorifying the current upper classes, their social rules, or religious stories. He led by example – and many would eventually follow.
It would be hard to argue he was just “one more painter.” He chose not to become a lawyer or any other kind of “professional”. But it would be hard to argue he made the wrong choice. Can the average person name any other lawyer or professional who lived in Paris during his lifetime? Probably not. Manet’s life created lasting, valued influence on future generations.
That he likely died as a result of untreated (or poorly treated) complications from sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, is poetic. In a more perfect world, he might have lived when a free-spirited person like himself might not have faced such ugly and painful consequences from STDs. But that was not his fate. He had to do the best he could in the era he lived. And that he did.
Sometimes pictures speak louder (and much longer) than words. Manet’s paintings speak for themselves. They reveal Manet. And they have more than enough to say.