Arts Everyday Living: Morisot and Manet—The Enigma of Manet

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 I have never seen such an expressive face as his…..

                                                                                   Berthe Morisot

Why did Berthe Morisot, who was the subject of 11 portraits by Edouard Manet, never reciprocate with at least one canvas of her fellow artist?

However, other colleagues and friends contributed their interpretations to posterity of a man who still remains an enigma.  For example, he rebelled against centuries of artistic traditions, and yet refused to officially join the Impressionists when they broke with with the French art establishment.  He was also a gentleman, personally charming and generally considerate of his peers, but once wounded art critic Louis Duranty in a duel.  Morisot seems to have suffered from his unpredictable behavior toward her, especially regarding her creative abilities—sometimes, according to Berthe, offering praise for her masterpieces, then, making her feel that I am capable of nothing.

So let’s take a look at Manet  through the eyes of his contemporaries, from Henri Fantin Latour (1836-1904) to Carolus Duran (1837-1917) to  Edgar Degas (1834-1917).  And as a bonus, I’ve included Manet’s own assessment of himself in Self-Portrait with Skull Cap.


Fantin Latour

Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, 1867, o.c., The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois



Carolous Duran

Carolus Duran, Portrait of Edouard Manet, c. 1880, o.c., Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI




Edgar Degas, Portrait of Edouard Manet, c. 1866-1868, drawing, Musee D’Orsay, Paris





Edouard Manet, Self Portrait with Skull Cap, 1878-1879, o.c. Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan



*Quotes of Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) about Edouard Manet (1832-1883) from Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat by Beth Archer Brombert, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 1996.

For more about the two artists, click:

Morisot and Manet: An Affair to Remember


The above images are used solely for educational purposes.


Explore other portraits by the masters including Rembrandt and Vermeer in Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively!

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