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Manet and the Sea
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Manet and the Sea

- In the Galleries: Artists

Philadelphia Museum of Art
(www.philamuseum.org)
Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 26th Street
Philadelphia, PA
215.235.7469

Manet and the Sea
(Bio)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 24, 2004

First in a series of sea-related art: Manet and the Sea is actually a collection of works by Manet and his contemporaries, including Morisot, Renoir, Monet, Courbet, Whistler, and others. With 100 paintings, drawings, and watercolors, 45 of which are by Manet, borrowed from 60 public and private collections in the US and abroad, the development of seaside tourism is depicted as it influenced French painters to explore the textures and colors and rhythms of the sea. The artists saw the sea as a force that is constantly changing, constantly moving, and constantly shifting moods. The sea was a respite from the City. (Museum Notes).

…douard Manet was born in Paris and was fascinated with the sea at an early age. His first sea paintings involve the American Civil War, based on eyewitness accounts, and he borrowed motifs from Dutch marine painting. While Manet was influential on the sea paintings of the other artists shown in this exhibition, his contemporaries also influenced Manet with their works about Trouville, Honfleur, and various harbors. (Museum Notes). The Philadelphia Museum was ingenious in their decision to display Manetís works along with these other renowned artists, many of whom were Impressionists, as one could compare styles, interpretations, and creative approaches. My own impressions of the works follow, as well as a variety of photos of works provided by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I have always felt that Manetís paintings had a flatness and lightness that likened them somewhat to photographic images. The simplicity of the portraits and landscapes seemed to exude innocence and love of nature and families. However, upon seeing some of Manetís works in this exhibit with fiery, dark sea battles and the juxtaposition of Manet with 17th Century Dutch masters, my scope of understanding Monetís artistic development was broadened. The early Dutch paintings shown, such as those by Van de Velde and Jacobsy, were detailed and foreboding, with fire and storms. Even the early French works (1853) had storms brewing, naval combat, and dark green seas.

Manetís early works (1864) of steamboats and battles actually appeared to be sometimes influenced by Japanese simplicity of line, as he painted from high, with choppy waves or sheer blue seas, occasionally with a fishing theme. Monetís 1866-71 seascapes showed luminescence with thick brushstrokes and moonlit nights, while Boudinís 1862 Beach at Trouville was formal and peaceful, with beachgoers in bustles dresses and long coats.

Another earlier work by Courbet (1869) depicted a waterspout in the midst of waves with passionate, dark, storms, while his 1868 Beach at Boulogne used simple curvy lines for formal figures. Whistlerís 1865 paintings showed a leisure life with glistening moonlight and simple female models. During this period, Manet painted his brother, Eugene and wife, Suzanne, en plein air, with an elaborate black and red frame. Monetís 1866-70 works, such as The Beach at Saint-Adresse (1867), showed warmly dressed figures against the enormity of a cloudy sky.

Berthe Morisotís painting of a harbor scene had sensitive, leisure tones, and she painted children, families, strollers, and sailboats, in her signature, humanistic style (See Berthe Morisot's Bio). Manet, on the other hand, chose Venice in 1874 with an imposing gondola on a still canal of blue and peach tones and a city backdrop. Soon after (1879), Renoir painted his wave series, as lush and warm as his female nudes or childrenís cheeks, such as Seascape, Sunset at Sea, and The Wave. These rippling waters were reminiscent of floral bouquets, with emotional, rather than historical or natural evocations of the moment. Manetís fishing boat paintings of 1873 were, in contrast, flat strokes of black and green.

Juxtaposed at the end of this fascinating collection were Manetís 1880-81 large canvases of The Escape of Rochefort, with dark figures huddled at sea in a small row boat against a dark, moonlit night and Monetís 1881 calm waves, like Renoirís bouquets of foaming water, but in traditional sea greens and blues. An 1880-81 small Manet study featured a tiny, light boat in a tranquil and peaceful scene.

I look forward to enjoying the sea in France once more to synthesize my own impressions of color, mood, rhythm, and texture. Manet and his contemporaries found both power and serenity in the sea.


The Battle of the "Kearsarge" and the "Alabama", 1864, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas; 54 1/4 x 50 3/4 inches. John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia. Cat. 1027.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Steamboat, Seascape with Porpoises, c.1864, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Anne Thomson in memory of her father, Frank Thomson, and Mary Elizabeth Clarke Thomson, 1954
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



U.S.S. "Kearsarge" off Boulogne-Fishing Boat Coming in before the Wind, 1864, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 39 3/8 inches. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Partial and Promised Gift of Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen and Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Bernhard Gift, by exchange, Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rodgers and Joanne Toor Cummings, by exchange, and Drue Heinz Trust, The Dillon Fund, The Vincent Astor Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kravis, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, and Florence and Herbert Irving Gifts, 1999.99.442.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Steamboat Leaving Boulogne, 1864, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/2 inches. The Art Institute of Chicago. Potter Palmer Collection. 1922.425
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



On the Beach at Boulogne, c. 1868, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 15 x 17 3/8 inches. The Detroit Institute of Arts. Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill 70.173
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Port of Calais, c. 1868, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 39 3/4 inches. Private Collection.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Beach at Boulogne, 1868, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas; 12 5/8 x 25 5/8 inches. Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (85.498)
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Moonlight, Boulogne, 1868, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 39 3/4 inches. Musťe d'Orsay, Paris. Bequest of Comte Isaac de Camondo, 1911. RF 1993
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Departure of the Folkestone Boat, c. 1868-72, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 28 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Mr. and Mrs. Carroll S. Tyson Jr. Collection. 1963-116-10.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Escape of Rochefort, 1880-81, Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. Musťe d'Orsay, Paris. Acquired through payment in kind, 1984.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Escape of Rochefort-The Large Study, 1880-81. Oil on canvas, 56 1/4 x 44 7/8 inches. Kunsthaus Zurich. Vereinigung ZŁrcher Kunstfreunde
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Green Wave, c. 1866-67, Claude Monet. Oil on canvas, 19 1/8 x 25 1/2 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer. 1929.100.111
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Seascape: Storm, 1867 Claude Monet. Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 40 3/4 inches. The Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. And Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, 1867, Claude Monet. Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 40 3/4 in. The Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection. 1933.439
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Garden at Sainte-Adresse, 1867, Claude Monet. Oil on canvas, 38 5/8 x 51 inches. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum. 1967.241
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Harbor Scene, Isle of Wight, 1875, Berthe Morisot. Oil on canvas, 15 x 18 1/8 inches. Private Collection
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Beach at Trouville, 1863, Eugene Boudin. Oil on wood; 13 3/4 x 22 1/2 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. 1983.1.14
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso, 1866, James McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas. 23 x 29 3/4 inches. Tate, London. Presented by W. Graham Robertson, 1940. N05065
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Seascape, 1879, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 39 1/16 in. The Art Institute of Chicago. Potter Palmer Collection. 1922.438
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art



Sunset at Sea, 1879, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachussetts.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net