Edouard Manet (1832 - 1883)
Edouard Manet was a paradoxical combination of the revolutionary artist who craved official gold medals; the debonair man-about-town who used street slang; and the republican liberal who wanted to go home to the comfortable conservative lifestyle to which he was accustomed. He was handsome, witty and generous to friends, who included Baudelaire and Zola. And he loathed the hypocrisy of people like his own father, a pillar of the legal establishment with an illegitimate son, whose mother Manet married himself, once his father was dead.
He was one of the generation regularly excluded from the Paris, Salon. Rejected fro both style and content, the famously controversial Olympia andDejeuner sur L'Herbe ended up in the Salon des Refuses, although Manet really had not anticipated the power of public opinion against him. Yet, as far as his peers were concerned, Dejeuner marked the dawn of Impressionism. Manet's composition follows a sixteenth-century engraving of a lost drawing by Raphael, called the Judgement of Paris. By reinterpreting the work of a Renaissance master, Manet was questioning the possibility of belief in anything one once trusted. This painting was completed the year after the death of Manet's father, who was both a judge and an adulterer.
By 1874 Manet's reputation as experimental artist and leader of the Impressionists was firmly established. The Cafe Guerbois, near his Batignolles studio, became the meeting place for Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas and Pissaro and although Manet presided over them regularly, he would not participate in their exhibitions. He chose instead to remain focused on the Salon, which he called, the true field of battle'. His main influences had always been the Spanish painters Velazquez and Goya, but it was during this time - when he actually went painting en plein air from Monet's boat studio - that he came closest to the Impressionist style.
His leg was amputated and dies of syphilis in Paris, 1883.