Manet’s Exhibition of Paintings (c. 1876)

This drawing is an excellent example of how natural illusion misleads. Once titled Au Salon because scholars believed it was a scene from the Paris Salon it has more recently been known as Exhibition of Paintings because one of Manet's paintings hanging on the rear wall was never shown in the Salon. Yet, even the curator from the Louvre who pointed out the mistake in the Manet exhibition of 1983 still thought that Manet was depicting a scene he had witnessed in Paris.1 But..........

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Captions for image(s) above:

Manet, Exhibition of Paintings (c.1876) Wash and watercolor over pencil. Louvre, Paris

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.......this drawing is a very close transcription of one of the world's most famous paintings and one that Manet was known to revere: Velazquez's Las Meninas. From the lamphook on the ceiling to the pictures on the wall, so many features match, it is hard to understand how its source was missed. Even Velazquez himself leans over on the left.

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Captions for image(s) above:

L: Manet, Exhibition of Paintings (c.1876)
R: Detail of Velazquez, Las Meninas

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Another lesson to be learnt from this drawing is Manet's method. Manet has morphed a painting from the past into an image of modern Paris with each figure borrowing part of its identity from the original. In this case, he used only one image as his source making it easy to recognize. In his masterpieces, he used many. It is an exercise, not a finished work of art but it is very revealing.

Captions for image(s) above:

Manet, Exhibition of Paintings (c.1876)

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Notes:

1. Francoise Cachin, Manet 1832-1883 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 1983, p. 346

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 05 Nov 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.