An Ohio museum’s exhibit of works by French Impressionist Edouard Manet demonstrates how the advent of photography influenced portrait painting in the mid-19th century.
“Manet: Portraying Life,” at the Toledo Museum of Art,” compares the revolutionary impact of photography, which influenced Manet’s works, to the effect modern technology such as smartphones have on how individuals depict one another today through social media such as Facebook.
“Known for portraits of friends and celebrities of his era, the painter often called ‘the first modern artist’ came of age during the mid-1800s when photography first became available to the public,” according to The Associated Press. “He even kept his own collection of photos of the subjects he painted.”
The show, which opened this month, features paintings drawn from 31 lenders from Budapest to Tokyo, including some of his best-known works, according to the Toledo Blade.
Among the 39 paintings on display are “Berthe Morrisot with a Bouquet of Violets,” “Portrait of Emilie Ambre as Carmen,” and “The Railway.”
In addition, more than two dozen of Manet’s photographs of the subjects he painted are displayed.
The exhibit is the first to focus on Manet’s portraits, which comprise about half his body of 400 works, according to the Blade.
“Instead of assembling a retrospective of Manet’s works, the two museums chose portraits that would open the discussion of what impact photography had on Manet’s paintings,” according to The Associated Press.
“We’re not suggesting an exact reliance on photography, but this was a new medium in the era that he’s painting and it was very important,” said co-curator Lawrence Nichols.
Born in 1832, Manet grew up just as photography first became available to the public. He even kept his own collection of photos of the subjects he painted, according to the wire service.
The exhibit includes not only portraits of men in top hats and women in flowing dresses, but works that illustrate the change in and around his home in Paris, revealing social unrest, political turmoil and the Industrial Revolution.
(Above: “The Railway,” by Edouard Manet, 1872)