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The scandalous art of Edouard Manet

Meet one of the 19th century's most influential artists

Europeana Foundation

"There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another." Edouard Manet

One of the most influential artists of the 19th century Edouard Manet was born on 23 January 1883 to a wealthy Parisian family with strong political connections. His father was a judge, and his mother was a daughter of a diplomat and a goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince.

Despite his father’s expectations, Manet did not pursue a career in law. Instead he studied art under the academic painter Thomas Couture, and mastered his skills by copying masterpieces at the Louvre.

In 1856, Manet opened his own studio. However, his works did not bring him the deserved recognition. On the contrary, they were regarded by his contemporaries as controversial and repugnant.

Manet’s style of painting challenged the art conventions of that time. His most renowned paintings and Olympia caused a big public scandal. The flatness of the paintings, the sketch-like manner in which he handled the works as well as the underlying message that raised the issue of prostitution and the role of women were ridiculed by the art critics. However, they played a crucial role inspiring young artists who were later to become known as impressionists.