food in the arts


MANET, Edouard/ ARTISTS 1650-1899/ ART MAIN film and food
(b. Jan 23, 1832, Paris, France, d. April 30, 1883, Paris) music and food
French painter and printmaker who in his own work accomplished the transition from the realism of Gustave Courbet to Impressionism. Manet broke new ground in choosing subjects from the events and appearances of his own time and in stressing the definition of painting as the arrangement of paint areas on a canvas over and above its function as representation. Exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des Refusés, his Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe ("Luncheon on the Grass") aroused the hostility of the critics and the enthusiasm of a group of young painters who later formed the nucleus of the Impressionists. His other notable works include Olympia (1863) and A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882).

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  See also: Degas

The Absinthe Drinker

oil on canvas 117.5 x 103cm
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Salon rejected this painting on several counts. The Baudelairian subject matter of a drunk offended public morals and the loose handling and lack of definition of the painting outraged the critics. The bottom 16 inches of the painting was added in 1867 completing the figure, adding the glass of absinthe and the bottle.

Absinthe was served from fountains placed behind the bar and was poured onto a spoonful of sugar. By 1874 two million gallons of absinthe were being consumed a year in France.
Eel and Red Snapper

oil on canvas 38x46cm
Musee d'Orsay
Fish and Oyster
or Still Life with Fish

oil on canvas, 71 x 91cm
Art Institute of Chicago

Luncheon on the Grass (Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe)


Oil on canvas, 81 x 101 cm

Musee d'Orsay

The active spirit of independence in Impressionism, if not its style, may be considered to date from this famous work, refused by the Salon in 1863 and exhibited, under the title of Le Bain at the Salon des Refusés of the same year. It is the larger of Manet's two versions of the subject, a smaller and freer version being in the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London. According to Antonin Proust, the idea of the picture suggested itself to Manet when they were watching bathers at Argenteuil. Manet was reminded of Giorgione's Concert Champêtre and determined to repeat the theme in clearer colour and with modern personnel. A closer likeness of composition has been found in an engraving by Marcantonio of a group of river gods, after a now lost original by Raphael of The Judgement of Paris. An Old Master element of formal arrangement remains to distinguish it from an essentially Impressionist work and yet as well as being ostensibly set in the open there are various hints and suggestions in light and colour of fresh possibilities in open-air painting. The furious outcry it caused as the principal exhibit among the Salon rejects was based on the alleged indecency of two fully-dressed men appearing in the company of the naked female bather (an accusation no one had thought to make against the comparable juxtaposition in the work attributed to Giorgione). But the respectable persons represented in sedate conversation were Manet's favourite model, Victorine Meurend (whom he also painted as a toreador), his brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff, and Manet's younger brother, Eugène.
Public hostility not only helped to make Manet a hero in the eyes of the young painters but brought together in his support the group from which the Impressionists emerged.

How far Claude Monet was impressed by the picture may be guaged from the fact that in 1865 he decided to paint his own Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, though simply as a group of picnickers without the element of dress and undress and in more natural attitudes than the figures in Manet's composition. Only a fragment of this large work has survived but a Déjeuner sur l'Herbe by Monet in the Hermitage, Leningrad, is apparently a replica---not so grand a work as Manet's but with more veracity of informal, sun-lit grouping. Manet himself changed the title of his painting to Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe at his exhibition of challenge and protest in 1867. It came to the Louvre as part of the Moreau-Nelaton Collection in 1906.

Manet - The Luncheon in the Studio  
The Luncheon in the Studio
Oil on canvas, 120 x 154 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
The Luncheon in the Studio is perhaps Manet's finest painting in this period. It is a portrait of Léon Leenhoff, said to have been born to Manet and his future wife Suzanne Leenhoff before they were married. The young man was sixteen years old when thus represented, and his mother continued to present him as her younger brother. The name of Vermeer has been cited in relation to this picture, in which Manet contrived an elegant harmony between the distribution of light and the delicately contrasted yellows and blacks.

The Lemon, 1880
14 x 22 cm
Oil on canvas
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Picture for Women  
Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère
Courtauld Institute Galleries, London
Picture for Women (1979)
Transparency in light-box 1425 x 2045 mm
Collection of the artist. Cinematographic photograph
© Jeff Wall
This sparkling portrayal shows extensive use of peinture claire, a technique Manet himself evolved. Attention, mes camarades anglais, observe nostalgically the Double Diamond light ale bottle, bottom right. It is genuine, I can assure you, having researched this very bouteille before delivering a lecture at the City Lit in the 1980s! If you are under 40, you will not have heard of it - me - or the 'light ale of which we speak.' Tant pis!Picture for Women was inspired by Edouard Manet's masterpiece A Bar at the Folies-Bergères (1881–82). In Manet's painting, a barmaid gazes out of frame, observed by a shadowy male figure. The whole scene appears to be reflected in the mirror behind the bar, creating a complex web of viewpoints. Wall borrows the internal structure of the painting, and motifs such as the light bulbs that give it spatial depth. The figures are similarly reflected in a mirror, and the woman has the absorbed gaze and posture of Manet's barmaid, while the man is the artist himself. Though issues of the male gaze, particularly the power relationship between male artist and female model, and the viewer's role as onlooker, are implicit in Manet's painting, Wall updates the theme by positioning the camera at the centre of the work, so that it captures the act of making the image (the scene reflected in the mirror) and, at the same time, looks straight out at us. The seam running down the middle of the photograph is apparent in some of Wall's large-scale pictures, where two pieces of transparency are joined. The fact that it serves as a reminder of the artifice of picture making is something that Wall has come to appreciate: 'The join between the two pictures brings your eye up to the surface again and creates a dialectic that I always enjoyed and learned from painting... a dialectic between depth and flatness. Sometimes I hide it, sometimes I don't', he has said.