Paris, 1832–Paris, 1883
Born into the bourgeoisie, Manet began his art education under the tutelage of an academic, classical painter. Influenced, however, by Spanish art and his friendship with the poet Baudelaire, he became involved with the quest for realistic forms of expression. In contrast to Courbet, whose realism took its subjects from the masses and working class, Manet’s themes were the customs and manners of modern Paris. His paintings, including in particular Le Déjeuner sur lÅfherbe and Olympia, were sharply criticized but received the support of such poets and novelists as Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Zola. Since Manet was on good terms with literary figures, he became a link between the worlds of art and literature. He learned much from his studies of Japanese ukiyo-e and boldly introduced such elements as shallow expression of space, greater emphasis on planar composition, and use of large brushstrokes to painting in the West. His use of black is brilliant; its contrast with bright colors generated new effects. While Manet is generally regarded as a leader among the artists who later constituted the Impressionists, despite his strong influence on them, he himself never exhibited at an Impressionist exhibition, preferring to show his work at the official Salon.