Homage to Manet

A Studio at Batignolles (also called Homage to Manet), 1870

 

Les Batignolles was the district where Édouard Manet and many of the future Impressionists lived. Henri Fantin-Latour, a quiet observer of this period, has gathered around Manet, presented as the leader of the school, a number of young artists with innovative ideas: from left to right, we can recognise Otto Schölderer, a German painter who had come to France to get to know Gustave Courbet‘s followers, a sharp-faced Manet, sitting at his easel; Auguste Renoir, wearing a hat; Zacharie Astruc, a sculptor and journalist; Émile Zola, the spokesman of the new style of painting; Edmond Maître, a civil servant at the Town Hall; Frédéric Bazille, who was killed a few months later during the 1870 war, at the age of twenty-six; and lastly, Claude Monet.

Their attitudes are sober, their suits dark and their faces almost grave: Fantin-Latour wanted these young artists, who were greatly decried at the time, to be seen as serious, respectable figures. Only two accessories remind the spectator of the aesthetic choices of the new school: the statuette of Minerva bears witness to the respect due to the antique tradition; the Japanese style stoneware jar evokes the admiration of this entire generation of artists for Japanese art.

In this group portrait exhibited at the Salon of 1870, each man seems to be posing for posterity. The painting confirms the links between Fantin-Latour and the avant-garde of the time and Manet in particular. It echoes Zola’s opinion of Manet: “Around the painter so disparaged by the public has grown up a common front of painters and writers who claim him as a master”. In his diary, Edmond de Goncourt sneered at Manet, calling him “the man who bestows glory on bar room geniuses”.

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The Sleeper in the Valley

L’Homme Blessé, (The Wounded Man), a self-portrait by Gustave Courbet, 1844-1854

 

LE DORMEUR DU VAL

C’est un trou de verdure, où chante une rivière
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D’argent; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit: c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort; il est étendu dans l’herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme:
Nature, berce-le chaudement: il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

Arthur Rimbaud

 

______________________________________________

 

“It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.

A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses,
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: it is cold.

No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.”

 

This poem, written in 1870 by the 16-year old Rimbaud, is partially in the classic form but already announces his future avant-garde poems. When he wrote this piece, France was at war with Prussia, and Rimbaud was frequently running away from home and traveling by foot.

From Sappho Onwards

Couple saphique allongé, Auguste Rodin, c. 1897

Rodin’s fascination for Sapphic couples, which he shared with Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Baudelaire, Pierre Louÿs, Paul Verlaine and his predecessor Gustave Courbet, was evident in several of his drawings.

 

“I am sorry to have to ask you to allow me to mention what everybody declares unmentionable. My justification shall be that we may presently be saddled with the moral responsibility for monstrously severe punishments inflicted not only on persons who have corrupted children, but on others whose conduct, however nasty and ridiculous, has been perfectly within their admitted rights as individuals. To a fully occupied person in normal health, with due opportunities for a healthy social enjoyment, the mere idea of the subject of the threatened prosecutions is so expressively disagreeable as to appear unnatural. But everybody does not find it so. There are among us highly respected citizens who have been expelled from public schools for giving effect to the contrary opinion; and there are hundreds of others who might have been expelled on the same ground had they been found out. Greek philosophers, otherwise of unquestioned virtue, have differed with us on the point. So have soldiers, sailors, convicts, and in fact members of all communities deprived of intercourse with women. A whole series of Balzac’s novels turns upon attachments formed by galley slaves for one another – attachments which are represented as redeeming them from utter savagery. Women, from Sappho onwards, have shown that this appetite is not confined to one sex. Now, I do not believe myself to be the only man in England acquainted with these facts. I strongly protest against any journalist writing, as nine out of ten are at this moment dipping their pens to write, as if he had never heard of such things except as vague and sinister rumors concerning the most corrupt phases in the decadence of Babylon, Greece & Rome. I appeal now to the champions of individual rights to join me in a protest against a law by which two adult men can be sentenced to twenty years penal servitude for a private act, freely consented to & desired by both, which concerns themselves alone. There is absolutely no justification for the law except the old theological one of making the secular arm the instrument of God’s vengeance. It is a survival from that discarded system with its stonings and burnings; and it survives because it is so unpleasant that men are loath to meddle with it even with the object of getting rid of it, lest they should be suspected of acting in their personal interest. We are now free to face with the evil of our relic of Inquisition law, and of the moral cowardice, which prevents our getting rid of it. For my own part, I protest against the principle of the law under which the warrants have been issued; and I hope that no attempt will be made to enforce its outrageous penalties in the case of adult men.”

 

George Bernard Shaw

Letter sent  to an editor of a Newspaper

1889

 

After Manet’s Masterpiece

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, with Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, 1865-1866

 
 

Manet’s painting inspired Picasso to a cycle of 27 paintings, 140 drawings, 3 linogravures and cardboard marquettes for sculpture carried out between 1949 and 1962

 
 

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Picnic on the Grass), a 1959 film directed by Jean Renoir

 
 

Jim Lee’s version for Cosmopolitan, June 1974

 
 

Déjeuner sur l’herbe, a photograph by Jonathan Charles, 1974

 
 

Title, and features similar front cover art, of British bigband the New Jazz Orchestra on Verve Records,1969

 
 

See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy! (1981) is the second studio album by pop rock group Bow Wow Wow. The album was the first release by the group to chart, at #192 on the Billboard 200. Posing nude is lead singer Annabella Lwin, who was fifteen at the time of the album’s release. The Andy Earl cover caused outrage that led to an investigation by Scotland Yard, instigated by Lwin’s mother and never appeared on UK and US releases.

 
 

Still from The Simpsons

 
 

Yves Saint Laurent Spring Summer 1999 ad campaign photographed by Mario Sorrenti

 
 

Untitled (after Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’Herbe), Julie Rrap, 2002

 
 

Star Wars Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, after Manet, by Philip Bond, 2009

 
 

Babar the Elephant after Manet, possibly by the fictional character’s author, Jean de Brunnhoff

 
 

Graphic art by Stano Masar

 
 

Les Trois Femmes Noires, Mickalene Thomas, 2010

 
 

Secret Garden II: Versailles. Dior Fall-Winter 2013 ad campaign by Inez Van Lamsweerde y Vinoodh Matadin