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Art Review: Manet - Portraying Life @ Royal Academy

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 47 months ago
Art Review: Manet - Portraying Life @ Royal Academy
Manet: Portraying Life
 26 January 2013 to 14 April 2013
 
 Key. 33  /  Cat. 16
 
 Edouard Manet  
 Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872
 Oil on canvas, 55.5 x 40.5 cm
 Musee d Orsay, Paris. Acquis avec la participation du Fonds du Patrimoine, de la Fondation Meyer, de Chine Times Group
 et d un mecenat coordonne par le quotidien Nikkei, 1998
 Photo copyright RMN (Musee d'Orsay) / Herve Lewandowski
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872. Musee d Orsay, Paris. Acquis avec la participation du Fonds du Patrimoine, de la Fondation Meyer, de Chine Times Group et d un mecenat coordonne par le quotidien Nikkei, 1998 Photo copyright RMN (Musee d'Orsay) / Herve Lewandowski
Manet: Portraying Life
 26 January 2013 to 14 April 2013
 
 Key. 60  /  Cat. 53
 
 Edouard Manet
 The Railway, 1873
 Oil on canvas
 93.3 x 111.5 cm
 National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer, 1956.10.1
 Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet The Railway, 1873. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer, 1956.10.1 Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Manet: Portraying Life
 26 January 2013 to 14 April 2013
 
 Key. 57  /  Cat. 51
 
 Edouard Manet
 Street Singer, c.1862
 Oil on canvas
 171.1 x 105.8 cm
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of Sarah Choate Sears in memory of her husband, Joshua Montgomery Sears.
 Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet Street Singer, c.1862. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of Sarah Choate Sears in memory of her husband, Joshua Montgomery Sears. Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Key. 31  /  Cat. 26
 
 Edouard Manet
 Music in the Tuileries Gardens, 1862
 Oil on canvas
 76.2 x 118.1 cm
 The National Gallery, London. Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet Music in the Tuileries Gardens, 1862. The National Gallery, London. Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917
Manet: Portraying Life
 26 January 2013 to 14 April 2013
 
 Key. 15  /  Cat. 6
 
 Edouard Manet
 Mme Manet in the Conservatory, 1879
 Oil on canvas
 81 x 100 cm
 The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo
 Photo Borre Hostland
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet Mme Manet in the Conservatory, 1879. The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo Photo Borre Hostland
Manet: Portraying Life
 26 January 2013 to 14 April 2013
 
 Key. 53  /  Cat. 45
 
 Edouard Manet
 Portrait of M. Antonin Proust, 1880
 Oil on canvas
 129.5 x 95.9 cm
 Lent by the Toledo Museum of Art; Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey
 Photo Photography Incorporated, Toledo
 
 Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Edouard Manet Portrait of M. Antonin Proust, 1880. Lent by the Toledo Museum of Art; Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey Photo Photography Incorporated, Toledo

It's being dubbed the first blockbuster exhibition of the year and the advance booking has already resulted in the Royal Academy committing to opening late on Sundays. But does it live up to the hype?

Categorising Manet's work is difficult as he co-opted many genres including Impressionism, Realism and the Dutch masters. He never displayed with the Impressionists as he was more interested in shaping the art establishment from within, despite the fact they were often confounded by his work and rejected many of his submissions.

This crossing of styles is visible in his painting of Claude Monet's family. The background is pure Impressionism but  Monet's wife and child in the foreground are much more naturalistic. This is only one of Manet's impressive paintings on display.

There are a few of his masterpieces on display including The Railway and Music in the Tuileries gardens, but many of his famous works are notable by their absence such as The Bar at the Folies Bergeres and The Execution of Emperor Maximillian.

Many of the works are not Manet's best but we were won over by the two portraits of his fellow painter Berthe Morisot. In both, she is dressed in black and this draws the attention away from her clothing and to her face. In the first painting she is seen as beautiful and full of life, but in the second she is mourning the death of her father and her pain is evident as her face is almost melting in anguish.

Does this exhibition live up to the hype? No. Is it worth going? Yes. Visitors will not be able to form a definitive view of Manet's genius from this exhibition, but it does contain sufficient masterpieces for us to recommend it.

Manet: Portraying Life is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts from 26 January - 14 April. Tickets are £15, concessions available. Advance booking recommended.

Last Updated 26 January 2013

Kate

The Manet Exhibition is wonderful. Open your eyes and enjoy the energy he imparted to everything he painted. Everything has a presence. His use of line and minimal brushwork are both liberating. Do read the comments on the wall by other artists of the time as you leave. They are relevant and so true.