Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Fruit Vendor
34 x 30 Oil on Linen

Manet had a rather vexed history at the Paris Salon exhibitions. He did not enter a painting to be juried until he was 27 years old and that piece was promptly rejected. Two years later, however, he had two paintings accepted. The Spanish Singer was well received and won an Honorable Mention. His Portrait of M. and Mme. Manet was less kindly received. One critic wrote that the artist’s parents “must often have rued the day when a brush was put into the hands of this merciless portraitist.” At the next Salon his entries were rejected. Not only did he suffer the ignominy of hanging in the Salon des Refusés but his painting, Le Bain, was given a prominent position where it could receive the maximum ridicule. It was mockingly referred to as Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, the title by which it is known today. The next year his two paintings were accepted but savaged by the critics. The following year two paintings were again accepted. One was of Jesus mocked by the soldiers, the other a nude. He knew his Olympia was going to be controversial and went to the opening with great trepidation. He was relieved when a number of people rushed over to congratulate him on his work. They were, he was told, the most superb seascapes. Seascapes? Manet was perplexed but soon enough discovered the source of the confusion. The two admired canvases were not by Manet but by an unknown 24 year old artist exhibiting at the Salon for the first time, his name was Monet.....

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