from The New Book of Knowledge®
Édouard Manet is widely regarded as a forerunner of the modern movement in painting. He was born on January 23, 1832, in Paris, the son of wealthy parents. Rather than study law, as his father wished, Édouard became an apprentice on a ship. When he returned home with his luggage full of drawings, his father allowed him to study art. In 1850 he entered the studio of Thomas Couture, an excellent teacher. After six years he left to work on his own—painting everyday life in Paris.
In 1861, Manet's painting The Guitar Player was accepted by the Paris Salon, the official exhibition of the French Academy of Fine Arts. Déjeuner sur l'herbe was refused by the Salon in 1863. Its subject—a female nude, accompanied by two clothed gentlemen, seated on the grass of a public park—was considered improper. Olympia, a painting of a reclining female nude, was accepted in 1865, but it caused a great scandal. After that, most of Manet's works were rejected by the Academy.
Manet was somewhat like the realist painters of his day in his choice of subjects and his manner of painting them. He was also often called the leader of the impressionists. But he never thought of himself as an impressionist painter. He remained firmly rooted in classical composition. And he longed for recognition by the Academy.
Manet died on April 30, 1883. By then he was beginning to be recognized as a pioneer of modern painting. Olympia was exhibited in the Louvre in Paris in 1907.
Reviewed by Frank Getlein
Author, The French Impressionists