I am not a fan of portraiture and the often accompanying cult of celebrity. Usually the subject of the portrait is more important than the artist who painted it or how they did so. I wasn’t too optimistic, therefore, heading for the Royal Academy’s exhibition Manet: Portraying Life. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the show. Yes, there were a couple of ‘celebrity’ rooms but these were very much the minority. Mostly it was how and why Manet painted the people he did.
Music in the Tuileries Gardens, Edouard Manet (1862)
One room had just one painting in it. This was Manet’s Music in the Tuileries Gardens. The audio guide had an interesting description of it:
“It’s difficult to imagine the shock when this painting was first shown. To us it’s a rather calm, inoffensive picture of social life in the Tuileries Gardens with men and women out…
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