Born on this day in Paris in 1832, Edouard Manet died prematurely at the age of 51, tragically curtailing his singular career. Often derided by contemporary French art critics for his subject matter and his painting style—in 1870, the artist fought a duel with a reviewer, whom he wounded in the chest—Manet is now considered one of the most seminal and influential figures in modern art.
The Met houses more than 100 works by Manet—oils on canvas, prints, and drawings. The Museum even has one of his calling cards (below), which artists used to send notes and direct patrons to their studios.
A major group of works by Manet was bequeathed to the Museum by the wealthy American sugar magnate Henry Osborn Havemeyer and his wife Louisine, both avid art collectors. Over his lifetime, Havemeyer acquired a total of 25 Manets. Those in The Met include the famous Boating and the bold Mademoiselle V. . . in the Costume of an Espada (below), which Louisine stated was “one of the greatest and most difficult things Manet ever did.”
The Met is fortunate to own several still lifes by the artist, a genre in which he excelled. Among them are Still Life with Flowers, Fan, and Pearls; The Brioche; Strawberries (below); and Peonies, reportedly the artist’s favorite flower and a subject he painted numerous times.
Portraits of Manet by Edgar Degas can also be found in The Met collection, such as the striking graphic images featured at top and below. Friendly rivals, the two artists shared an interest in depicting modern life as well as in the medium of printmaking. At his death, Degas’s own personal collection of Manets included 14 drawings, eight canvases, and more than 60 prints.
Of the artist, Emile Zola wrote, “It is impossible… that M. Manet not enjoy his day of triumph sooner or later, that he not crush the timid mediocrities who surround him.” The celebrated writer published a book about Manet in 1867, shown here.
A deluxe edition of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, translated to Le Corbeau by Stéphane Mallarmé, was published in Paris with illustrations by Manet. His imaginative plates (below) display the originality and modernity that Manet brought to every project.
Celebrate Manet’s birthday today with an art-inspired gift for yourself (or someone you care about) from The Met Store.