Édouard Manet (23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French painter. One of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, his art bridged the divide between Realism and Impressionism.
Quotes of Édouard Manet
1850 - 1875
- I don't Know why I'm here. Everything before our eyes is ridiculous. The light is wrong, the shadows are wrong. When I enter in the studioI feel like I entering a tomb [in the studio of their common art-teacher Thoman Couture]. I know we can't make a model undress in the street. But there are fields, and at least in the summer we could do studies of the nude in the country, since the nude appears to be the first and the last word in art.
- So, they'd prefer me to do a nude, would they? Fine I'll do them a nude.. .I'll redo it [his painted copy of Giorgioni's 'Woman with musicians'], with a transparent atmosphere, like those women over there [women bathing in the river, Summer of 1862]. Then I suppose they'll really tear me to pieces. They'll tell me I'm just copying the Italians now, rather than the Spanish. Ah, well, they can say what they like. [the painting Manet means here became his most famous one: 'Déjeuner sur l'herbe'].
- Manet's quote to his friend Antonin Proust in 1862, from Manet, Francoise Cachin, Barrie & Jenkins, London 1991, p. 16
- How I miss you here [his friend in Paris, Manet visited Madrid and the famous museums there], and how delighted you would have been to see Velázquez, who in himself alone is worth the journey.. .He is the painter of painters. He did not astonish me, but delighted me.
- letter to Faintin-Latour, Madrid 1865, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, (translation Daphne Woodward), p. 118
- Get it down quickly, don't worry about the background. Just go for the tonal values. You see? When you look at it, and above all when you see how to render it as you see it, thats is, in such a way that its make the same impression on the viewer as it does on you, you don't look for, you don't see the lines on the paper over there, do you? And then, when you look at the whole thing you don't try to count the scales on the salmon, of course you don't. You see them as little silver pearls against grey and pink – isn't thats right? – look at the pink of the salmon, with the bone appearing white in the centre and then grays, like the shades of mother of pearl. And the grapes, now do you count each? No, of course not. What strikes you is their clear, amber colour and the bloom which models the form by softening it. What you have to decide with the cloth is where the highlights come and then the planes which are not in the direct light. Halftones are for the magasin pittoresque engravers. The folds will come by themselves if you put them in the proper place. Ah! M. Ingres, there's the man! We're all just children. There's the one who knew how to paint materials! Ask Bracquemond [Felix Bracquemond, 1833-1914, artist and print-maker]. Above all, keep your colours fresh. [instructing his new protegee, the Spanish young woman-painter Eva Gonzales, circa 1869]
- quote, (recorded by Philippe Burty), in Manet by Himself, ed. Juliet Wilson-Bareau, Little Brown 2000, London; p. 52
- You can do plein-air painting indoors, [to his pupil then, Berthe Morisot ] by painting white in the morning, lilac during the day and orange tones in the evening.
- quote, (recorded bij Berthe Morisot); in Manet by Himself, ed. Juliet Wilson Bareau Little Brown 2000, London; p. 303
- I spent a long time, my dear Suzanne, looking for your photograph.. .Every day we’re expecting a major offensive to break through the iron ring that surrounds us [the Prussian army was encircling Paris completely, in Fall of 1870, Manet was locked up, but had sent his wife Suzanne to the county before]]. We are counting on the provinces, because we can't just send our little [French] army of to be massacred. Those devious Prussians may well try to starve us out.
- Letter to his wife Suzanne Leenhof, which he had sent out of Paris, in The private lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 78
- I never imagined that France could be represented by such doddering old fools, not excepting that little twit Thiers...
- Letter to Félix Bracquemond (18 March 1871), published in Manet by Himself (1995) by Julliet Wilson-Bareau
- Only party hacks and the ambitious, the Henry's of this world following on the heels of the Milliéres, the grotesque imitators of the Commune of 1793.. .What an encouragement all these bloodthirsty caperings are for the arts! But there is at least one consolation in our misfortunes: that we're not politicians and have no desire to be elected as deputies.
- Letter to Félix Bracquemond (21 March 1871), published in Manet by Himself (1995) by Julliet Wilson-Bareau
- He has no talent at all, that boy! You, who are his friend, tell him please to give up painting.
- My dear Duret, I went to see Monet yesterday. I found him heart-broken and completely on the rocks. He asked me to find him someone who would take from ten to twenty of his paintings at their choice, for 111 fr. apiece. Shall we do it between us, making 500 fr. each? Naturally, no one, least of all he, must know that it is we who are doing it..
- Letter to Théodore Duret, 1875, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 121
1876 - 1883
- You would hardly believe, my dear fellow, how difficult it is to clap a solitary figure on a canvas and to concentrate the entire interest on that one solitary figure without it ceasing to be lively and full.. .Your portrait is an outstandingly sincere work. I remember as though it were yesterday the rapid, summary fashion in which I dealt with the glove of the ungloved hand. And when you said to me, at that very moment, 'Please not another touch', I felt we were so perfectly attuned that I couldn’t resist the impulse to embrace you. Ah! Heaven send that no one takes it into his head later on to stick that portrait into a public collection!
- Letter to Antonin Proust Proust, 1880, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 123-124
- Ah! Women.. .I met one yesterday on the Pont de l'Europe [in Paris, circa 1881 - Manet was walking through the city frequently with his friend Antonin Proust, but then already more or less cripple because of his syphilis]. She was walking the way only a Parisienne knows how to walk, but with an extra something, even more assured. I'll remember that. There are some things that will always be engraved on my mind.
- quoted in Portrait of Manet by Himself and his Contemporaries, Courthion and Cailler; London, Cassell, 1960 p.97
- What a pelisse! [Méry Laurent was posing for the painting 'Autumn' of Manet's series of the seasons, he painted in 1881 – she had ordered that pelisse from Worth for that posing]. It's tawny brown with an old gold lining – staggering. It will make a wonderful background for some things I’m thinking of doing. Promise that when it's worn out you’ll give it to me [Méry promised].
- quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 232
- You can deduce everything about a woman from the way she holds her feet. Seductive women always turn their feet out. Don't expect to get anywhere with a woman who turns her feet in.
- a remark to Mallarmé, recorded by Thadée Natanson; as quoted in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of impressionism, Margaret Shennan, Sutton Books London 1996, p.136
- Christ on the cross – what a symbol. A symbol of love surpassed by sorrow, which lies at the root of human condition, the main symbol of human poetry.. ..but that's enough of that, I'm getting morbid. It's Siredey’s fault (his doctor during his last years, when Manet was seriously ill: syphilis]. Doctors always remind me of undertakers. Though I must say, I feel a lot better this evening. [while working on Antonin Proust's portrait in 1882]
- quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 232
- I beg you, if I die, don’t let me go piecemeal into the public collections, my work would not be fairly judged. I want to get in complete or not at all.. .Please, please, promise me one thing, never let my things go into a museum piecemeal [Antonin Proust had recently become minister of Arts in France].
- in: Manet by Himself, p. 304; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 241
- No one knows what it feels like to be constantly insulted [by art-critics in Paris]. It sickens and destroys you.. .The fools! They've never stopped telling me I'm inconsistent [in painting style]; they couldn't have said anything more flattering.
- quote, recorded by his friend Antonin Proust in his last years, Manet by Himself, p. 304, as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 241
- I was painting modern Paris while you were still painting Greek athletes [to his friend Edgar Degas, (quoted by George Moore circa 1879). [Later Degas reacted: 'That Manet, as soon as I started painting dancers, he did them.'
- from The Impressionists at first hand, by Bernard Denvir, Thames and Hudson, London 1991, p. 78
- One must be of one's time and paint what one sees.
- As quoted in Encyclopedia of Artists (2000) by William Vaughan and Christopher Ackroyd, p. 28
- I am influenced by everybody. But every time I put my hands in my pockets I find someone else's fingers there.
- As quoted by Willem de Kooning in Willem De Kooning, 1904-1997 : Content as a Glimpse (2004) by Barbara Hess.
Portrait of Manet by himself and his contemporaries (1960)
- Édouard Manet, Pierre Courthion, Portrait of Manet by himself and his contemporaries, 1960/1983. Translation of La Grande Revue (10 August 1907).
- Conciseness in art is essential and a refinement. The concise man makes one think; the verbose bores. Always work towards conciseness.
- p. 98.
- In a face, look for the main light and the main shadow; the rest will come naturally — it's often not important. And then you must cultivate your memory, because Nature will only provide you with references. Nature is like a warden in a lunatic asylum. It stops you from becoming banal.
- p. 98.
- You must always remain master of the situation and do what you please. No school tasks, ah, no! no tasks!
- p. 99.
- We have reached that delightful moment when 'Impressionism' is about to be born, when its light (the formula for which has yet to be found) is still only a hint, a caress, in the silvery snows of Monet or in the pale skies of Pissarro. Ah, how one would like to prolong this moment of hesitation for ever, this moment of transition, when transparent blue shadows are putting black shadows to flight and bitumen disappears!
- p. 212.
Quotes about Manet
- The leader, the hero of Realism, is now Manet. His partisans are frenzied and his detractors timid. It would seem that, if one refuses to accept Manet, one must fear being taken for a philistine, a bourgeois, a Joseph Prudhomme [JP, created by caricaturist Henri Monnier, was a personification of the vulgar self satisfied bourgeois who grew up under the July Monarchy], an idiot who cares for nothing but miniatures and painted porcelain[-]one examines oneself with a sort of horror[-]to discover whether one has become obese or bald, incapable of understanding the audacities of youth.
- Théophile Gautier, writing in Le Moniteur universel
- He [Manet] hits of the tone.. ..but his work lacks unity and temperament too.
- M. Manet has never seen any Francisco Goya's, M. Manet has never seen any El Greco's.. ..that may seem unbelievable to you, but it's the truth. I myself have been filled with wonder and stupefaction at these mysterious coincidences.. ..He's heard so much about his 'pastiches' of Goya, that he is now trying to see some of Goya's paintings.. ..Every time you try to pay Manet a service, I'll be grateful.. ..quote my letter or at least several lines of it. What I'm telling you is the naked truth.
- w:Charles Baudelaire, in a letter to art-critic w:Théophile Thoré-Bürger, c. 20 June 1864; in Selected Letters of Charles Baudelaire – the Conquest of Solitude, University of Chicago Press, 18 Feb. 1986, p. 203
- Baudelaire is reacting on Thoré's review the 'Paris Salon of 1864' in which he accused Manet of making 'pastiches' of El Greco, Goya and Vélasquez
- Manet sees color and light, after which he no longer worries about the rest. When he has made the 'spot of color' on his canvas that a person or an object makes on the surrounding environment, he feels that this is sufficient. Don't ask anything else of him for the moment.. .His present vice is a sort of pantheism in which a [human] head is esteemed no more than a slipper; in which sometimes more importance is given to a bouquet of flowers, than to the physiognomy of a woman.. ..one scarcely pays attention to the head, although it is full grace.. ..it is lost in the modulation of the coloring.
- w:Theophile Thoré [Burger] (1868), in his [critical] review of the Salon in Paris, 1868; as quoted in Impressionism and Post Impressionism 1874 – 1904, 'Realism and Tradition', Linda Nochlin, Englewood Cliffs, New Yersey, 1966, p. 69
- He [Edouard Manet] begged me to go straight up and see his painting ['Le Balcon' on the Salon of Paris; Berthe Morisot was his model for the painting], as he was rooted to the spot. I've never seen anyone in such a state, one minute he was laughing, the next insisting his picture was dreadful; in the next breath, sure it would be a huge success.
- Berthe Morisot (1869), remark to her sister Edma, after visiting the Salon of Paris in 1869; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart with Adler and Garb; Camden Press London 198, pp. 33-34
- ..once started, nothing could stop him [Manet, correcting in a painting, fresh-made by Berthe, of sister Edma with her young child Cornélie]; from the skirt he went to the bust, from the bust to the head, from the head to the background. He cracked a thousand jokes, laughed like a madman, handed me the palette, took it back; finally by five o'clock in the afternoon we had made the best caricature you have ever seen.
- Berthe Morisot (Winter, 1869); as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 62-63
- The stories of the Manet brothers [Edouard Manet the painter, and his brother: Morisot's future husband Eugène Manet] tell about all the horrors we are likely to face ([in Paris, during the war between France and Germany] are almost enough to discourage even the bravest of us. [But] you know they always exaggerate, and at the moment they see everything in the blackest possible light.
- Berthe Morisot (1870), in a letter to her sister Edma, who stayed then in Britanny, 1870; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 72
- I put it [a still life painting of a pear, made by Manet] there on the wall, next to Ingres' Jupiter; for a pear like that would overthrow any god.
- Edgar Degas (c. 1875)', his comment on a little still life painting, painted by his friend Manet, during a conversation with the writer Moore around 1875; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 117
- That Manet, as soon as I started painting dancers, he did them. [Degas' reaction later, after Manet said Degas: 'I was painting modern Paris while you were still painting Greek athletes'. [quoted by w:George Moore, circa 1879].
- Edgar Degas (1870's), as quoted in The Impressionists at first hand, by Bernard Denvir, Thames and Hudson, London 1991, p. 78
- The bright blue water continues to exasperate a number of people [in Manet's painting 'Boating', he painted in the Summer of 1878].. .Manet has never, thank heavens, known those prejudices, stupidly maintained in the academies. He paints, by abbreviations, nature as it is and as he sees it. The woman, dressed in blue, seated in a boat, cut off by the frame as in certain Japanese prints, is well placed in broad daylight, and her figure energetically stands out against the oarsman dressed in white, against the vivid blue of the water. These are indeed pictures the like of which, alas, we shall rarely find in these tedious Salon.
- w:J. K. Huysmans, in his review of the Salon of 1879 in Paris; as quoted in 'Manet and his Critics', Georg Heard Hamilton, New York, 1969. pp. 216-217
- His agony was horrible, death in one of its most appealing forms, that I once again witnessed at a very close range. If you add to these almost physical emotions my old bond of friendship with Edouard, a entire past of youth and work suddenly ending, you will know that I am devastated.
- Berthe Morisot (April 1883), to her sister Edma; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 198, p. 131
- Here you are, put this somewhere, on your work table. You must always have this before your eyes.. ..It’s a new order of painting. Our Renaissance starts here.. ..There’s a pictorial truth in things. This rose and this white [in the painting 'Olypmpia' of Manet] lead us to it by a path hitherto unknown to our sensibility, (quote after 1897).
- Paul Cézanne (1890's), in: 'What I know or have seen of his life'; Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991 p. 71
- Let's not eliminate nature. Too bad if we fail. You see, in his 'Dejeuner sur l'herbe', Manet ought to have added - I don't know what - a touch of this nobility (of the Renaissance painter Giogioni), whatever it is in this picture that conveys heaven to our every sense. Look at the golden flow of the tall woman, the other one's back.. .They are alive and they are divine, (quote after 1898).
- Quote of Paul Cézanne (1890's), in: 'What he told me – II. The Louvre'; Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991 p. 186
- Cézanne made this critical remark on Manet, standing in the Louvre museum, in front of the painting 'Le concert Champêtre', painted by Giorgioni, he admired