Hats off to Édouard Manet for creating such beautiful work. He was born #onthisday in Paris. At The Milliner's' | 1881
Manet knew these rules, and others too, for he came from a social background of civil service, diplomacy and the aristocratic reserve of the high bourgeoisie. Intended for the Navy, he failed, and at 18 in 1850 enrolled for six years as a student of Thomas Couture who, at the Salon three years earlier, had sprung to fame (and notoriety) with his enormous and much debated history painting, The Romans of the Decadence. Under Couture he learned the ancestral techniques of his trade (though he was swiftly to abandon them) and copied the painters of Renaissance Venice and 17th-century Spain and Holland who were to be both profound influences and the subjects of respectful subversion in his work. He wanted Couture’s popular success, critical acclaim and commissions but when, in 1859, he made his first submission to the Salon, he was rejected. In 1861 (the Salon was biennial) he tried again and two paintings were accepted, but in 1863 he was again rejected — indeed, so many other painters were rejected that Napoleon III commanded the immediate institution of the Salon des Refusés (the first hint that a Salon jury might be fallible), at which Manet’s now celebrated Déjeuner sur l’Herbe caused one of the great brouhahas in the history of art criticism. The absolute power of a Salon jury in Manet’s day may seem extraordinary and outrageous but it is matched today by the similarly arbitrary power of the Arts Council and of Serota and his Tates. Until his death 20 years on, the Salon maintained its ambivalence towards his work, but Manet remained convinced that it was the proper place for him to exhibit and be judged, though he was contemptuous of jurors whom he damned as “an ill-mannered lot” for whom he “wouldn’t give a f-”. Conservative in temperament and wealthy enough to go his own way, he could afford to offend the Salonards while wishing to be one of them.