“Flowers in a Crystal Vase”, Oil on canvas; National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Edouard Manet, 1832-1883 was born in Paris, France. He was a French painter who was one of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects; he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.
His family was affluent and well connected. His mother was the daughter of a diplomat and the goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince, Charles Bernadotte, from whom the current Swedish monarchs are descended. His father was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law. His uncle, Charles Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and often took young Manet to the Louvre. In 1845, following the advice of his uncle, Manet enrolled in a special course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine Arts and a subsequent life-long friend.
In 1856, he opened his own studio. His style in this period was characterized by loose brush strokes, simplification of details and the suppression of transitional tones. Adopting the current style of realism initiated by Gustave Courbet, he painted The Absinthe Drinker (1858-59) and other contemporary subjects such as beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights. After his early years, he rarely painted religious, mythological, or historical subjects; examples include his Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, in the Metropolitian Museum of Art, New York.
“The Last Flowers of Manet” – 16 flower pictures painted between 1881 and 1883, the last months of Manet’s life. No one knows the order in which they were painted. The collection is grouped according to the shape of the vases in which the flowers were painted.