Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Edouard Manet (France, 1832-1883)


Figure 1.--The portrait here is an exquisite portrait of "Boy with a Sword" painted in 1861. The model for this famous painting was Leon Koella-Leenhoff, who may have been Manet's own son. The boy is painted in a 17th century cavalier scene. Click on the image to see an even more famous Manet portrait.

Manet was a noted French painter and printmaker. In his career he made the transition from the realism to Impressionism. He establish new precedents in his choice of subjects, preferring contemporary events. He exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des RefusÚs, arousing the hostility of critics steeped in realism, but was aplauded by the young painters who were later to be many of the great Impressionists. Manet's body of work is quite small, but it included some masterpieces, one of which was "The Fifer"--a boy fifer. It was rejected by the Salon, but is today recognized as a great work. Shockingly Manet provided us with no background. The painting here is an exquisite portrait of "Boy with a Sword" painted in 1861. The model for this famous painting was Leon Koella-Leenhoff, who may have been Manet's own son. He was born to Manet's wife before their marriage and appears in more of Manet's pictures than any other member of the family.

Parents

Manet parent's weee wealthy. He was thus no starving artist. In fact he did not have to sell his work for a living. He persued art out of love and painted as he wanted without the needed to please the public or a client.

Childhood

Edouard's father was an upper-middle-class French civil servant. This was not the kind of background that prepared a boy to lead what proved to be an artistic revolution. [Billman]

Career

Manet was a noted French painter and printmaker. In his career he made the transition from the realism to Impressionism. He establish new precedents in his choice of subjects, preferring contemporary events. He exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des RefusÚs, arousing the hostility of critics steeped in realism, but was aplauded by the young painters who were later to be many of the great Impressionists. Manet's body of work is quite small, but it included some masterpieces, one of which was "The Fifer"--a boy fifer. It was rejected by the Salon, but is today recognized as a great work. Manet had gis critics, among them the Emperor Louis Napoleon. After Napoleon first installed Maximilli an in Mexico and then abandoned him, Manet painted his firing squad in French uniforms. Napoleon was furious, but could not get at the painting to destoy it. He did prevent the duistribytion of prints. But perhaps more than any other artist of the age, Manet was the darling of the literati, men like Bauldelaire, Anatole Franc, Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, and many other extolled his work. An Irishman William Orpen even pao\inted a tribute, "Homage to Manet".

Style

Shockingly Manet provided us with no background. This is a unique characteristic not shared by other contemprary artists. The result is our entire focus is directed at the subject with no distractions. The painting is devoted to simplicity. He did not always paaint like this. He had some cluttered cnavasses as well. but with "The Fifer" he achieved greatness.

Influence

Manet was an extrenmely influential artist. One art historian writes, "... his art met the avante-garde criterion to illustrate scenes of one's own time. His young compatriots Monet, Pissarro, Bazille, Renoir, looked to him to lead the revolution against the art of the establishment." [Billman] Manet also pionered a mew method of painting. As he was also an adept watercolorist he reversed the established practice in art of beginning with a dark underlay and painting the light colors top. Manet beagan his canvases with the very colors he wanted. This was a much faster way of paonting and made outdoor painting more feasible. It also led to a greater range of colors on the pallet. [Johnson, p. 587.] These were major inivations that would be embraced by the impressionists. In fact without them it is difficult to see the impressionists developing when and how they did.

Children

Manet did two famous portraits of children. Both employ the techquiqe of providing no background to complicate the imafe. The painting here is an exquisite portrait of "Boy with a Sword" painted in 1861 (figure 1). The model for this famous painting was Leon Koella-Leenhoff, who may have been Manet's own son. He was born to Manet's wife before their marriage and appears in more of Manet's pictures than any other member of the family. He is better known, however, for his painting of a smartly uniformed boy--"The Fifer". It is a great masterpiece of French art.

Hair Styles

Note the short rather modern looking hair cut of the "Boy with a Sword". I am not sure that this reflects the hair styles of the 1860s when the piece was painted or his attempt to paint a 17th century hair style.

Painting Incident: Monet's Garden (1874)

Several of the impressionists were good friends. They would have a little friendly competition paining the same scene to see how they variously hanfeled the image and lighting. The results are classic images in art history and technique. One example was three renderings of Monet's wife Camille and son Jeanat Argenteuil. Manet and Monet painted sinilar scenes. Renoir painted it differently and created one of the most beloved of all impressionist works. A HBC reader has provided us some details of this session.

Sources

Billman, Bonita L. "Art history courses". Site accessed February 6, 2003.

Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History (Harper Collins: New York, 2003), 777p.







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Created: May 27, 2002
Last updated: 9:41 AM 5/16/2010