Manet, presented an unsettling challenge to the world of art by recasting traditional subjects in a modern guise. An admirer of the old masters, he was equally enthralled by the art of his own time, specifically the Parisians and their middle-class pleasures and modern life. He typically painted urban scenes of people in cafes, or people walking the street and sophisticated ladies on the town.
Manet considered himself a realist painter and once said, “I paint what I see, and not what others like to see.”
In the work above, from 1875, he shows us the beauty that lies within the perfectly mundane. While the size of the canvas retains the grand scale of a history painting or portraiture, Manet has chosen a much more modest subject. Here we have a woman and child hanging laundry outdoors on a windy day. We see the woman’s gentle gaze at the delighted child, and know they are enjoying the moment rather than seeing it as a task.
Notice his free handling of paint, and how he depicts the water dripping into the bucket with just splotches of white paint. You can almost feel the warm sun as it flickers across the freshly hung laundry in this flower filled garden. Here we see a Manet who is becoming interested in the work of the Impressionists. He is painting outdoors in the sunlight and we can see the effect of the breeze.
Toady, Manet is considered by many to have been an artistic genius.
Are you familiar with Manet or his work? I LOVE art history, preservation and interpretation. I’d love to hear from you, if you have thoughts of your own to share. Feel free to message me or comment.