Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). “Portrait of Edouard Manet” (French, 1832–1883). Etching, drypoint, and aquatint on laid paper; third state of four, 1864–65. Gift of Mrs. Imrie de Vegh, 1949 49.127.7
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Edouard Manet at The Met

A searching, trailblazing artist who was admired (and collected) by his peers, Manet followed his own muse

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 painting style—he fought a duel with a reviewer in 1870, whom he wounded in the chest—Manet is today 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 owns one of his calling cards (below), which were used by artists to send notes and direct patrons to their studios.

Edouard Manet, calling card. Anonymous. Engraving, ca. 1856–83. Gift of F. C. Schang, 1977 1977.580.20

 A key group of works 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 claimed was “one of the greatest and most difficult things Manet ever did.”

 

“Mademoiselle V. . . in the Costume of an Espada.” Edouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). Oil on canvas, 1862. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 29.100.53

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.

“Strawberries.” Edouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). Oil on canvas, 1882. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold, 1956 56.230.1

Several portraits of Manet by Edgar Degas can also be found in The Met collection, such as the 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.

“Manet Seated, Turned to the Left.” Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Portrait of Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). Etching, first state (one of four known impressions), ca. 1866–68. Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Derald H. Ruttenberg Gift, and several members of The Chairman’s Council Gifts, 2003 2003.329

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 writer published a book about the artist in 1867, shown here.

“Edouard Manet.” Written by Emile Zola (French, 1840–1902). Plate of Olympia etched by Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). Published by E. Dentu, 1867. Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1932 32.91

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) show the originality and modernity that Manet brought to every project.

“Design for the poster and cover for ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe.” Edouard Manet (French, 1832–1883). Written by Edgar Allan Poe (American, 1809–1849). Translated by Stéphane Mallarmé (French, 1842–1898). Transfer lithograph on simili-parchment, 1875. Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1924 24.30.27(6)

Celebrate Manet’s birthday with an art-inspired gift for yourself (or someone you care about) from The Met Store.

 

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