Today I’m in Paris in the 1860s with the Impressionists. Paris is overrun with art students wanting to exhibit their paintings in the annual exhibition in the Salon des Beaux Arts. Today it’s 17 May 1863 and everyone is crowded into the exhibition of rejected works called the Salon des Refuses, where people are shocked by the paintings, jeering and hooting with laughter. But the painting that has completely stolen the show is Edouart Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe.
It’s Tuesday – where are you? is hosted by raidergirl3.
Now the teaser (to see more teasers click on the button). The ‘official rules’ are to select a page at random in the book you’re currently reading and pick two sentences between lines 7 and 12. My teaser is a bit longer than two sentences, not random and not from lines 7 – 12. It’s from page 28 of Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of the Impressionists.
Edouard Manet, who had exhibited at the Salon before, was this year exhibiting a monstrosity. Everyone stared in horror at Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, an outrageous depiction of a naked woman, brazen and unashamed, staring straight out at the viewer and seated on a riverbank between two clothed men. Behind her, a second, lightly draped woman, up to her ankles in water, stoops in the distance. This bold display was shocking enough in itself, but what really astounded the public was the modernity of the scene. The men were grouped casually, in modern dress: the painting seemed to be about the present day.
It wasn’t the nudity that was shocking, but the casual style and the fact that the painting looks so real. It was seen as “an obscene, provacative taunt, doubly shocking by virtue of its ordinariness.” The critics complained that Manet appeared to have no sense of harmony, light or shade and thought that the colours were brash and harsh – garish and jarring!
I don’t think so – what do you think?