France * 1832-1883
One of the earliest impressionists, Edouard Manet was born on 23 January 1832 in Paris, France. He worked from 1850 to 1856 in the studio of Thomas Couture, one of the key historical painters at the time, and continued his studies at the Academie Suisse as well as copying old masters in the Louvre, as such building a vast array of sources of inspiration that would serve him well in his later life.
Following the end of his studies, he travelled to Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany , Austria and Italy. After the death of his father in 1862 he became financially independent, which allowed him to travel to Spain to study Goya. Recognition came slowly for Manet but this did not prevent him from building a close circle of friends with impressionist painters such as Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir since the 1850s.
While he supported the impressionist movement, he also blended naturalistic elements in his painting style and preferred to paint people rather than landscapes in a way that created tension between these two elements – a practice which he improved after his study of Goya. “The absinthe drinker” is one of his earlier works, painted in 1859, but paintings such as “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” (1863) and “Olympia”, painted in the same year, are better known, not in the least as they skirted controversy. The latter painting, when accepted by the Salon, caused such an uproar that the Salon needed to be closed. Manet was a master in reflecting the psychology of his subjects – a trait particularly clear in his painting of Emile Zola (1868), who was part of his circle of friends.
His final work is one of his most famous, “Bar in the Folies Bergere”, painted in 1881-82.
Manet died on 30 April 1883 in Paris when an illness on his leg got the better of him.