Thursday, June 14, 2007


Edouard Manet (1832-1883) was born into the ranks of the Parisian bourgeoisie on January 29, 1832. His Mother, Eugenie Fournier, was a woman of refinement and god daughter of Charles Bernadotte, the Crown Prince of Sweden. Edouard's father, Auguste Manet, was a magistrate and judge who hoped that Edouard would someday follow in his footsteps. Manet did not.

Instead Manet became a painter and printmaker who in his own work accomplished the transition from the realism of Gustave Courbet to Impressionism. Manet broke new ground in choosing subjects from the events and appearances of his own time and in stressing the definition of painting as the arrangement of paint areas on a canvas over and above its function as representation.

Manet began his career with The Absinthe Drinker (1858), a painting depicting a solitary man amongst the shadows of the back streets of Paris. Exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des Refusés, his Déjeuner sur l'herbe ("Luncheon on the Grass") aroused the hostility of the critics and the enthusiasm of a group of young painters who later formed the nucleus of the Impressionists, ie Monet, Sisley and Renoir. Throughout his oeuvre Manet painted modern day life, yet many of his paintings are so much more than simple mimetic depictions. He died, in Paris, on April 30, 1883.

This picture La Rue Mosnier aux Paveurs (50cm x 65cm) was sold in 1986 for $ 10.9 million, then the highest auction price for a modern picture. It showed the view from the studio MAnet occupied from 1872 to 1878 and is mentioned by Emile Zola in his novel "Nana". Originally part of the collection of Samuel Courtauld, La rue Mosnier was one of a number inherited by his daughter, Mrs Sydney Butler, wife of "RAB" (Richard Austen Butler, Baron Butler of Saffron Walden, 1902-1982, English Conservatice politician). When she died, RAB was left a life interest in the picture which hung in his rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge, or in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

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