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Video:Profile of Edouard Manet

with Milo De Prieto

Edouard Manet was one of the leaders of French Impressionism in the 19th century. Learn about the life and work of this prolific, controversial painter in this bio from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Edouard Manet

Hello, I'm Milo for About dot com, and today we are talking about Edouard Manet. 

Biography of Edouard Manet

Edouard Manet was a pivotal 19th century French painter with a substantially prolific career. Considered a leader of French impressionism, his disregard for academic conventions lead to controversy among the established critics of the time. His work is characterized by depictions of modern life subjects, something quite revolutionary for his time and for this reason he is seen as a pivotal figure in the transition from realism to impressionism in art.

Manet was born January 23 of 1832 into an upper class household, his father, August, was a civil servant and his mother, Eunice, the daughter of a diplomat. He was a mediocre student as a young boy but always showed a strong interest in art and painting, an interest he was finally allowed to pursue after failing the exam to enter the Naval Academy twice. 

Manet's Luncheon on the Grass

He painted life as he saw it, his series of cafe scenes illustrate Paris' social life in the 19th century. These paintings were made from sketches Manet did on the spot and of actual people and situations offering insight into Parisian bohemian life, the life of working people as well as the life of some of the bourgeoisie of the time.

One of his best known paintings entitled Luncheon on the Grass, juxtaposes a fully dressed man and a nude woman. The painting caused a great deal of controversy when it debuted in 1863 as it was interpreted to be a scene of Bois de Boulogne a Parisian park well known to be a site for prostitution.

Manet's Olympia

Another famous painting of Manet, Olympia, also managed to offend viewers but this time it was not only the nudity of the woman depicted and her fully dressed maid but also her confrontational gaze. Several details in the painting identify her as a courtesan, details such as the orchid in her hair, her bracelet, and the pearl earrings. Formally, the painting deviates from the academic canon as it is characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, large color surfaces and shallow depth. Manet is considered an extremely important artist and his work is highly valued.

His paintings are part of respected art collections and are exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world. The modernity of his work lies in his courage to update old genres of painting by introducing new content and altering conventional elements. 

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