Due to Popular Demand: Manet, Part Deux

I am so pleased that so many of you are reading this blog! When I started I didn't know if it would be something that died quickly due to lack of interest or if it would at least sustain until the end of the school year! I am overwhelmed by the great comments I have been getting! The enthusiasm of the readers is amazing and I'm so glad that everyone is enjoying the work. So without further ado, due to emails on the Manet post earlier this week, I am posting other famous examples of his work here. The are posted in chronological order with the earliest at the top. Enjoy!

Music in the Tuileries, 1862

Olympia, 1863

Self-Portrait, 1879

Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère, 1881-1882

Make sure to check in next week when Lauren Fliegelman guest blogs again on Japonisme and the work below!

Portrait of Emile Zola 1867-1868. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Have a wonderful weekend! I am off to Las Vegas for a few days; definitely ready for some warm weather!


Apologies for lack of post Today, Thursday, March 25th

Hi Everyone!

I am writing to apologize for not posting today, tomorrow the first draft of my Honors Thesis is due and well that's all the art I can concentrate on today! I have included a link to a fun video of Women in Art that I love and hope that will make up for no official post today.

For anyone that will be in Madison, Wisconsin on April 22nd I will be giving a presentation on my Thesis subject of Question of Jewish Patronage in the Early Workshop of Tintoretto in 16th C. Renaissance Venice!

Here is the video! Buon Giovedi!



Art in Quotations

Believe it or not, I can actually draw.
- Jean Michel Basquiat


Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass or Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863)

Édouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass or Le déjeuner sur l'herbe 81.89 × 103.94 in., oil on canvas. Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.

Édouard Manet (23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) is often grouped with the Impressionist movement in Paris during the nineteenth century though he was never an official member. His work helped to bridge the gap between realism and impressionism. The Impressionist movement is most well-known by Claude Monet's Waterlilies series or Degas Ballerinas but it was a huge and vitally important movement that changed the way artists and the public related to art and its creation. The idea of plein air painting, or painting outside with a quick impression of nature instead of hours within a studio using posed subject, gave artists a new freedom to portray what they saw in an expressive way that was not held back by small details or perfected lines. Manet's career straddled this movement and the previous of representational realism. Le déjeuner sur l'herbe showcases both styles of his career.

The Impressionists were important for so many reasons but in particular they are to be given the credit of breaking artists away from a devotion and allegiance to the Academies. By severing the relationship between exhibition and academies, and launching their own showcase, the Impressionist paved the away for every avant-garde movement that would follow in Europe and the United States.
One of the first three works that Manet originally submitted to the the Salon de Paris. All three were rejected. The artists that were held out of the Salon were outraged and raised a great fuss that gained even the attention of the Emperor. He decreed that the rejected works were exhibited in the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused), an annex to the Salon de Paris, where the public could judge the controversial works for itself. Though the annex was looked down upon because of lack of a curatorial discerning eye that the juried Salon de Paris had, many of the artists were showing the most innovative works of the time. James McNeill Whister's Girl in White was also on display at the annex.

Manet's work created a huge uproar and scandal because of its use of a female nude within a larger work that contained male figures fully clothed. The large format of the work put it into the company of the great history paintings of David and his peers. Because this work can not be considered moralizing or inspiring of national pride the idea that such a format would be used was in itself scandalous. However, other elements were even more unusual and new.

The primary aspect that caused a sensation was the subject matter. Though the composition is taken from a print of Raphael's, the idea of clothed and nude figures also shows up clearly in Titian's Pastoral Concert. In those works however the nude women are either goddesses, muses or allegories. Here the nude model is absolutely contemporary, a thoroughly modern Parisian woman. The clothes piled beside her also seem fashionable and current. She is portrayed as a prostitute because of her nudity in the presence of the two men. The two males, both modeled on relations of Manet's, are identifiable as student or artist types. Also, the small frog in the lower left corner is another symbol of what could be construed as her status as a prostitute because the French word "grenouille" was also a slang word for available women. The woman looks directly at the viewer, asserting her presence through her gaze in a way that both the male figures do not. The figures do not seem to be connected through their interaction in any way though their legs are suggestively intertwined. Thus the picnic is given then to sexual overtones through small, symbolic details rather than an overt suggestion. The other nude in the background bathing is an important figure also because of the lack of perspective used in depicting her. This leads to the other element that made this painting so controversial.

The form and technique used to execute this masterpiece was revolutionary for a period that was dominated by the Academy. The flat application of color, and lack of subtle gradation that can be seen in the other works that have influenced this painting were both huge leaps from the polished surfaces that can be seen in the Academic paintings of the day (see previous post on David's Death of Marat for example). Also there is a complete lack of interest in depicting depth or perspective, as seen in the position and size of the bather in the background of the work. Though there are some elements of fore-shortening in the work, it is awkward and misplaced therefore only rendering the lack of finish more blatant.

This work is one of my personal favorites and was a favorite among many artists of the day and after. Pablo Picasso, especially, was heavily influenced by the work and did a complete series based off the work. Le déjeuner sur l'herbe was recently exhibited at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris in a wonderful show that displayed Picasso's works of the same name arranged around Manet's original.


Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (1503) Right Panel: Hell

Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (1503) Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Right Panel: Hell

Back to Bosch! Today we will be looking at the right and final panel of Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych. This is by far the most disturbing and therefore, to me anyway, interesting. It has twice the detail of the rest of the work and more monsters and strange happenings than a child's nightmare. If this is what Hell looks like I think we should all be afraid!

In order to fully explain this work I have found a great and really detailed explanation of the work from the BBC that will attempt to explain some of the more obvious scenes. I would try to explain this myself but I fear that I would fall far short of describing what this picture holds and how truly horrendous some of these things are! Here is the explanation from the BBC:
"The image of hell on the right-hand panel is one of Bosch's most violent hells, contrasting with one of Bosch's lushest paradises, which precedes it. This insinuates that the more sinful happiness people enjoy in their lifetime, the worse the experience will be afterwards. In Bosch's less violent hells the buildings burn; here they seem to explode. From the fires to the icy lakes, this is a depiction of extremes. The world has been turned upside down. Normal objects have grown to enormous proportions. In the central lake water is being turned to blood, and massive musical instruments are torturing their victims. Bosch's use of imagery helps the viewer realise how horrifying this scene actually is - in particular, his use of musical instruments as implements of torture. In Bosch's time, musical instruments were not only used to play music, but also played a role in literature and art. Different instruments have different connotations:

* The pink bagpipe in the centre above the tree-man has several connotations: the bagpipe was considered a very aggressive instrument because of the loud sound it makes, and may represent those that play it who are now being punished in this hell. The bagpipe was also a symbol of the male sex organ.
* The pommer is an early form of the oboe. It played a sharp sound and was common in Bosch’s time. The pommer was a phallic symbol, a connotation expressed in this painting.
* Below the pommer is a drum with a man trapped inside. The drum symbolises victory over the lust in the world, so it seems right that the drum traps inside it a lustful man.
* Currently, the harp is a symbol often linked with royalty and noble, but here it is torturing a man caught up in its strings. In the past the harp was a symbol of the female sex organ, and many Dutch sayings refer to this symbolism.
* The lute was used very often in medieval art to represent music, and in many paintings the angels played it. However, here Bosch is drawing on another symbolic connotation of the lute, which is that of seduction. Here the lute is overcoming people with pain.

Somewhat ironically, lust was also known as 'music of the flesh'. Therefore the musical instruments here suggest that the victims are paying for their lust in their previous life. Bosch is also implying that things that cause people pleasure in life, like musical instruments, can and will cause them pain later on.The people are not paying only for their lustfulness but also for all manner of sins: idleness is illustrated by the man in his bed being looked upon by demons. The punishment for gluttony is illustrated by the man being forced to vomit his food, and in the centre of the tree-man, an image of a tavern illustrates the sin of gambling. Several people around the panel are guilty of the sin of anger. In this hell normal relationships are being turned upside down: the hunters have become the hunted and the animals that are hunting them are grotesque. The animals within this piece are some of Bosch's greatest creations. Visual representations of man's faults are illustrated in creatures of all shapes and sizes, from rabbits to gnomes. The illustration of monsters was not unusual in Bosch's time; several books were written describing actual or fictional animals, and many people took inspiration from these books, as Bosch likely did. One interesting creature is the bird in the left-hand corner, very similar in appearance to the Egyptian God Horus. Horus, a man with a head of a falcon, was one of the oldest gods in Egyptian culture. Horus was the God who saw all with sharp eyes, and here he is punishing those he has seen sinning. In this piece, the bird represents the devil torturing souls. The devil eats his victims and excretes them into a pit below his throne. The image of the devil as a beast that sits on a throne is a direct lift from The Vision of Tundale by St Vincent of Beauvais: 'Bestia sedebat super stagnum'. This poem lists many different tortures in hell and all the various punishments."


In closing on this three-part topic I will reiterate the strange place that Bosch holds within the canon of Western art. Though he is well-known and his technique is not far from his contemporaries in the Netherlands during the 16th century, his work is almost completely unique in its macabre and sinister elements. Though the work of Netherlandish artists before and after him featured many elements of dark subject matter, Bosch enjoyment of these aspects and blatant disregard for the sensibilities for those looking at his work makes him one of the first truly individual artists within a defined movement.

I will be covering some of his other, more definable and understandable, works later in this blog but I felt that in order to be able to look at any of his work one must have been exposed to the Garden of Earthly Delights and seen his twisted mind displayed in all its glory first!


"And now, onto something completely different."