Manet’s Portrait of Antonin Proust (1880)

Antonin Proust was an old schoolboy friend of Manet's who, in Manet's later years, became the Minister of Culture. Carol Armstrong has already noted various reasons why she thinks that Proust in this portrait "represents Manet." Among them are that Proust holds the cane and yellow gloves that Manet himself holds in a portrait by Henri Fantin-Latour.1 Indeed Manet as a man-about-town was famous for his yellow gloves, top hat and cane.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Manet, Portrait of Antonin Proust (1880) Oil on canvas. Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

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In a different portrait, a group portrait, by Fantin-Latour Manet himself strikes the same pose that he gave twenty-five years later to Proust. Thus, Proust stands like Manet.2

Captions for image(s) above:

L: Manet, Portrait of Antonin Proust (detail)
R: Detail of Manet standing, Fantin-Latour, Homage a Delacroix (1864)

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Others too, before Armstrong, have also remarked that Proust looks remarkably like Manet himself. So, all in all, then, there appears to be rare agreement that Proust is Manet's alter ego, the artist as a man of State, the great master as a Minister of Culture. And it is just one more example of how every painter paints himself.

Captions for image(s) above:

L: Manet, Portrait of Antonin Proust (detail)
R: Manet, Self-Portrait (detail inverted)

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Notes:

1. Armstrong, Manet Manette (Yale University Press) 2002, pp. 308-9

2. Armstrong, “To Paint, To Point, To Pose: Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” in Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, ed. P.H.Tucker (Cambridge University Press) 1998, p. 101

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