Renoir's nude paintings | Walter Sickert's nude paintings | Lucian Freud's nude paitnings |
Left, A portrait of Manet by
Manet was born in Paris 23rd January 1832 into a middle-class family, the son of a civil servant who worked for the Ministry of Justice. Edouard didn’t enjoy school and had no interest in following in his father’s footsteps – into law. This provoked a huge argument between father and son and, as a compromise, Edouard opted for the navy. But after six months this career didn’t appeal to Edouard either, and so his father relented and he was allowed to enrol in the studio of the figurative painter Thomas Couture. He showed great promise from the start but rejected the then academic way of painting. Once he was given a plaster cast from which to copy. He drew it upside down – explaining… “it was more interesting that way.” Further stating: “You’ve got to belong to your own period and paint what you see”. Manet was very much a product of the Parisian middle-class, from the way he dressed to his charming manner – as this portrait of him clearly states. Like many of the Parisian middle class, he succumbed to having an illicit affair. Manet's affair was with his 20 year-old piano teacher, Suzanne Leenhoff, a Dutch girl, with whom he had a child. This fact was kept a secret from society, including his own father. Though Manet and Suzanne later married, she passed off their son as her brother, with Manet claiming to be the boy’s godfather.
OLYMPIA In 1865 the Salon accepted another of his controversial paintings, titled “Olympia”. Once again the public was outraged at its content. The very title was uncompromising, for Olympia at that time was just another word for “prostitute”. Clearly this naked woman was a prostitute; what’s more she was looking back at the viewer unashamedly and without embarrassment. They clearly saw the artists adeliberately trying to outrage “good taste”. Manet considered this painting to be his greatest work, but critics saw it otherwise, and one critic wrote that: “…Art sunk so low does not even deserve reproach”. It was the blatant sexuality that so outraged the public. This response took Manet by surprise and he wrote to a friend “…Insults are pouring down on me as thick as nails.” Given this onslaught, Manet didn’t stay in Paris, but fled to Spain for a while
THE RECLINING NUDE Olympia is one of the most important paintings of the reclining female nude, a subject that became popular from Renascence times – See Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (below left) One can immediately see how Manet was inspired by seeing this painting. Manet, when in Italy in 1853, made a copy of Titian’s painting. The pose is virtually the same. Other painters have been influenced by Titian’s painting, including Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920).
Right: "A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGERE" 1882 This was Manet’s last great painting, set in the famous Paris nightclub of the time. The model was in fact a barmaid by the name of Suzon. As in his other controversial paintings, we aren’t quite sure what is intended. By moving the barmaid’s reflection he made a double portrait, with perhaps himself reflected in the mirror standing before her. She is clearly in a world of her own, as if not aware of the man before her.
Renoir's nude paintings | Walter Sickert's nudepaintings | Lucian Freud's nude paitnings |