Edouard Manet/artist Essay, Research Paper
Edouard Manet was a French painter, whose work inspired the impressionist style, but who refused to so label his own work. He has far-reaching influence on French painting and the general development of modern art was due to his portrayal of everyday subject matter; his use of broad, simple color areas, and a vivid, summary brush technique. Manet used much realism in his paintings; realism, in art and literature, an attempt to describe human behavior and surroundings or to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life. Attempts at realism have been made periodically throughout history in all the arts; the term is, generally restricted to a movement that began in the mid-19th century, in reaction to the highly subjective approach of romanticism. The difference between realism and naturalism is harder to define, however, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. The distinction lies in the fact that realism is concerned directly with what is absorbed by the senses; naturalism, a term more properly applied to literature, attempts to apply scientific theories to art.
Manet began to paint genre (everyday) subjects, such as old beggars, street urchins, cafe characters, and Spanish bullfight scenes. He adopted a direct, bold brush technique in his treatment of realistic subject matter. Manet’s canvas, portraying a woodland picnic that included a seated female nude attended by two fully dressed young men (luncheon on the grass), attracted immediate and wide attention, but was bitterly attacked by the critics. Hailed by young painters as their leader, Manet became the central figure in the dispute between the academic and rebellious art factions of his time. In 1864 the official Salon accepted two of his paintings, and in 1865 he exhibited his Olympia, a nude based on a Venus by Titian, which aroused storms of protest in academic circles because of its unorthodox realism.
In this famous painting, Manet showed a different aspect of realism from that envisaged by Courbet, his intention being to translate an Old Master theme, the reclining nude of Giorgione and Titian, into contemporary terms. It is possible to find a strong reminiscence of classicism in the beautiful precision with which the figure is drawn, though if he taught to placate public and critical opinion by these references to tradition, the storm of anger the work provoked was sufficient disillusionment. There is a subtlety of modeling in the figure and a delicacy of distinction between the light flesh tones and the white draperies of the couch that his assailants were incapable of seeing. The sharpness of contrast also between model and foreground items and dark background, which added a modern vivacity to the Venetian-type subject, was regarded with obtuse suspicion as an intended parody. The new life of paint and method of treatment in this and the other works by Manet that aroused the fury of his contemporaries had a stimulus to give to the young artists who were eventually to be known as Impressionists. In a more general sense, they rallied to his support as one heroically opposed to ignorant prejudice and their own ideas took shape in the heat of the controversy.