Monday, September 1, 2008


Edouard Manet (1832-1883), a French painter, one of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

His mother, Eugénie-Desirée Fournier, was the goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince, Charles Bernadotte, from whom the current Swedish monarchs are descended. His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law. His uncle, Charles Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and often took young Manet to the Louvre. In 1845, following the advice of his uncle, Manet enrolled in a special course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine Arts, and a subsequent life-long friend.

This painting, a Bunch of Asparagus, was painted in 1880, a few years before his death. It is an oil on canvas measuring 45 x 55 cm and is now propriety of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne (Germany). In 1974 German painter Hans Haacke (1936- ) was invited to contribute a work to an exhibition in the museum. He proposed the display on an easel in a room of the gallery of the Bunch of Asparagus and, on the walls, panels summarizing the social and economic position of the people who owned the picture from the time of its purchase in 1880 by a banker from Manet for 1,000 Francs, to the time of its acquisition by the museum in 1968 for 1,36 million Marks ($ 530,000) through The Friends of the Museum association.

The proposal was accepted by the Curator of the museum but turned down by the organizing team of the exhibition in order to retain the support of the chairman of the Friends of the Museum whose positions on 19 boards were to be listed on a panel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Read about the original purchase of this painting in 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' - a biography (and winner of the 2010 Costa Biography award) about the original purchaser's family, the Ephrussi.