painted rapidly and directly, avoiding the careful transitions of light and dark that were expected in painting
of his time. Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe shows instead the bright figure of the woman contrasted with the
general darkness of the background. There is little modeling used to give her body a sense of roundness.
The effect is rather like that of a camera’s flashbulb that harshly illuminates the foreground object, while
leaving the rest of the picture in darkness.
Manet, Dejeuner sur l’Herbe, 1863.
Manet again explored his interest in the traditions of art history and in the roles of women in society in his
famous painting, Olympia. This painting shows a young, nude woman reclining on a bed, in a quotation of
Titian’s Venus of Urbino, which had by this period lost any of its original shock value and had become just
another hallowed masterpiece. Manet reopened viewers’ eyes by using a well-known model in the role of
a prostitute, and he painted her in the same glaring light that he used in the Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe. The
model’s proportions are not those of a classical goddess, and she wears fashionable shoes and a direct, but
not seductive, expression as she waits for her next client, who has just sent the flowers presented by the
black servant. The painting was met with a storm of disapproval when it was first shown, although it has
since influenced countless artists.
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