Edouard Manet was a French painter and printmaker who became famous in the transition between the Realist and Impressionist artistic movements in Europe. His paintings of Parisian modern life, featuring subjects such as prostitutes, beggars, and gypsies, engendered immediate controversy and subsequently paved the way for other "modern" artists such as Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne to revolutionize the global art scene. Manet was born in Paris on January 23, 1832. His father, a judge, encouraged the younger Manet to pursue a degree in law, but his son was drawn to the arts and pursued an education under the academic painter Thomas Couture. Between 1853 to 1856 he traveled between Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, during which time he absorbed the influences of the Dutch painter Frans Hals and Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya. Manet opened his own painting studio in 1856. His artistic style was characterized by loose brush strokes, simplification of details, and the suppression of transitional tones. Adopting the style of Realism espoused by his contemporary Gustave Courbet, Manet turned to the subjects of everyday modern life for inspiration in his painting. This was a significant departure from the traditional academic style favored by the established French artistic elite, which favored scenes from classical mythology, history, or the Bible. Manet's brash rejection of this mannered and formal style led to his continual exclusion from the annual Paris Salon, a major art exhibition that served as the traditional benchmark of artistic achievement and marketability. Nonetheless, Manet refused to cater to the status quo and continued to produce unconventional "snapshots" of bohemianism, the urban working class, and the bourgeoisie. Manet never formally aligned himself with the artists of the emerging Impressionist movement, in part because he did not wish to become the figurehead of the group identity. However, his work informed and anticipated many Impressionist masterpieces, and Manet was in turn influenced by Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet and his sister-in-law, Berthe Morisot. Late in his career, as public opinion began to favor the up-and-coming artistic movements challenging the authority of the Salon, Manet was awarded the Légion d'honneur by the French government. He died two years later, in 1883.
Edouard Manet (after), Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe, 1907, Unsigned, Etching,