In 1850, at about the time Manet started to paint, young artists in Paris could expect to succeed only through the official Academy exhibitions known as Salons, whose conservative juries favoured biblical and mythological themes and a polished technique. Ironically then, it was his rejected painting Dejeuner sur l'herbe (1863) which brought him his much sought after recognition. The Salon jury of 1863 had been exceptionally brutal and thousands of paintings had been refused. To counter these refusals, the Salon des Refuses was established and it was here that Dejeuner sur l'herbe (also known as the Luncheon on the Grass) was exhibited. Although influenced by Raphael and Giorgione, Dejeuner did not bring Manet laurels and accolades. It brought criticism. Critics found Dejuener to be anti-academic and politically suspect and the ensuing fire storm surrounding this painting has made Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe a benchmark in academic discussions of modern art. The nude in Manet's painting was no nymph, or mythological being...she was a modern Parisian women cast into a contemporary setting with two clothed man. Many found this to be quite vulgar and begged the question "Who's for lunch?" The critics also had much to say about Manet's technical abilities. His harsh frontal lighting and elimination of mid tones rocked ideas of traditional academic training. And yet, it is also important to understand that not everyone criticized Manet, for it was also Dejeuner which set the stage for the advent of Impressionism.

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