Edouard Manet (1832 to 1883)
I wouldn’t say that I was completely enthralled by this exhibition but I did discover how significant and controversial Manet’s paintings were, particularly in the way that he depicted women and his influence.
Essentially, Manet’s paintings made a breakthrough by moving away from depicting naked women as figures from classical mythology. Through paintings such as Olympia and Dejeuner sur L’Herbe (not in this exhibition but referenced) he gave us real, sensuous women that don’t look in the least bit like Greek statues!
I am very happy to have had the chance to see both these wonderul paintings at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.
Although there was just one Manet (the clue was in the exhibition title) it is an important picture – the impressionistic Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus 1868 – saved for the nation through a fundraising campaign by the Ashmoleon Museum in 2012. This fully realised portrait contributed towards the development of another of Manet’s highly regarded works, Le Balcon 1868-69 (Musee d’Orsay, Paris).
The lack of Manet’s work in the exhibition was compensated for by some very good quality paintings and sketches by other artists including Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, Philip Wilson Street and Walter Sickert. Through these pictures the exhibition, which ran until 19 April, explored the influence of the Impressionist movement on British artists, how Manet influenced the way women were depicted and how Manet prepared the the way for professional female artists of the 20th century.
The exhibition takes its title from Sir William Orpen’s painting, Homage to Manet (included in the show), which depicts an informal gathering of forward-thinking British art-worthies Sickert, Tonks, Steer, D. S. MacColl, the critic George Moore and the collector Sir Hugh Lane beneath Manet’s portrait of the artist Eva Gonzalès.
Norwich Castle and the Norwich School of painters
This was a my first visit to Norwich Castle which is a kind of mini National Gallery, V&A, and Natural History museum all rolled into one in a delightful setting. The permanent art exhibitions include great works by the Norwich School of painters including John Sell Cotman and John Crome. The Castle is a an inspiring local resource and just half an hour away on the train, so I’ll visit again.
I was interested to learn from my companion Diana that Winsor & Newton’s Cotman range of watercolours is named after John Sell Cotman.
The Cotman watercolour paintings are rather lovely, very free and flowing, and definitely deserve a bit more of my time and attention in the future.
COUNTRY LIFE (Online). 28 February 2015. http://www.countrylife.co.uk/art-and-antiques/exhibition-review-homage-to-manet-at-norwich-castle-69688 [Accessed 24 April 2015]
Heaton, T, Eastern Daily Press. Record-breaking crowds set to see Édouard Manet’s masterpiece at Norwich Castle 6 December 2015. Online. http://www.edp24.co.uk/ [Accessed 24 April 2015]