Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet in 1863 (Realism, Impressionism)

Edouard Manet is considered a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. Le déjeuner sur l’herbe and Olympia, engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism.

The Déjeuner sur l’herbe was the focal point of the “salon des Refusés” that took place in 1863 in Paris.
The official Paris Salon, sponsored by the French government and the Academy of Fine Arts, took place annually, and was a showcase of the best academic art. A medal from the Salon was assurance of a successful artistic career. But in 1863 the Salon jury refused two thirds of the paintings presented, including the works of Courbet, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro… The rejected artists and their friends protested, and the protests reached Emperor Napoleon III. The Emperor’s tastes in art were traditional but he was also sensitive to public opinion. So he offered artists whose paintings had been rejected to gather in what was called “le salon des Refusés”.
More than a thousand visitors a day visited the Salon des Refusés. The journalist Emile Zola reported that rooms were full of the laughter of the spectators. Critics and the public ridiculed the refusés, which included such now-famous paintings as Edouard Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe…😰 The composition is taken from a print of Raphael’s and the idea of clothed and nude figures comes from Titian’s Pastoral Concert. The problem here is that this is not a Venus, this is not a classical context. She is not a nymph always naked living in a forest, but she’s a modern woman who’s taken off her dress => hence, she is not “nude”, she is “naked”. 😳😳😳
Also, the frog in the lower left corner is a hint of her status of prostitute as the French word “grenouille” was also a slang word for available women🐸. Last, note that this woman looks directly at us, it is impossible to look at her without her seeing us… So for all bourgeois people very accustomed themselves to visiting prostitutes, this tour of the salon in 1863, probably with their wives along 💏, must have been quite embarrassing!🙊
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe by Edouard Manet