Manet: Portraying Life Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
Manet: Portraying Life Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

In January 2013, the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major exhibition in the UK to showcase Edouard Manet’s portraiture. The exhibition will examine the relationship between Manet’s portrait painting and his scenes of modern life.

By translating portrait sitters into actors in his genre scenes, Manet guarantees the authenticity of the figures that populate his genre paintings and asserts a new, more potent relationship between Realism and Modernity. 'Manet: Portraying Life' will include over 50 paintings spanning the career of this archetypal modern artist together with a selection of pastels and contemporary photographs. It will bring together works from both public and private collections across Europe, Asia and the USA.

The exhibition will be arranged thematically, exploring Manet’s world and the landscape of nineteenth-century Parisian society. Different sections will focus on The Artist and his Family - Manet, Suzanne Leenhof Manet and Léon Koëlla Leenhof; Manet and his Artist Friendsincluding Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzalès and Claude Monet; Manet and his Literary and Theatrical Friends such as Emile Zola, Zacharie Astruc, Théodore Duret, George Moore, Stéphane Mallarmé and Fanny Claus; Status Portraits including Georges Clemenceau, Henri Rochefort and Antonin Proust, and finally, The Artist and his Models which will encompass both female friends such as Méry Laurent and Isabelle Lemonnier as well as professional models, such as Victorine Meurent.

Highlights will include The Luncheon, 1868 (Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen–Neue Pinakothek, Munich), depicting Léon, the son of Manet’s wife; Mme Manet in the Conservatory, 1879 (The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo); Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), Street Singer, c.1862 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, c.1863-68 (The Courtauld Gallery, London), The Railway, 1873 (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and Music in the Tuileries Gardens, 1862 (The National Gallery, London) which brings together the literary and theatrical friends of the artist.


'Manet: Portraying Life' has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. The exhibition has been curated by MaryAnne Stevens, Director of Academic Affairs, Royal Academy of Arts and Dr Larry Nichols, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.

Exhibition Review by Larissa Woolf, Arts Editor,

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