“In the Conservatory” by Édouard Manet
“In the Conservatory” by Édouard Manet is set in a conservatory in Paris, it shows a fashionable couple of some social rank. Their married status is conveyed by their rings and the proximity of their hands which reflects a hint of intimacy. The woman is the focus of the portrait, as she is more prominently placed plus her more colourful attire. Their lack of engagement with the viewer creates a sense of detachment.
The conservatory in this painting was in Paris and was then owned by painter Otto Rosen, and Manet used it as a studio during 1878 – 79. The couple was Manet’s friends, the Guillemets, who owned a clothing shop.
In 1945 during the end of the Second World War, this painting was among the objects evacuated from the Berlin Museums and put for safekeeping into a mine in Merkers. After the war, the picture was discovered and secured by the Monuments Men. Its salvage was documented in photographs which show soldiers posing with Manet’s painting in the mine in Merkers. Thankfully it survived those challenging times, and it made its way back to the first museum to own this masterpiece.
Édouard Manet was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life and was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. His early masterpieces, about 20 years earlier than this painting, caused considerable controversy and served as an influence for the young painters who would create Impressionism. In the last two decades of Manet’s life, he develops his own style that served as a significant influence on future painters. The model for Olympia, Victorine Meurent, became an accomplished painter in her own right.
In the Conservatory:
- Title: In the Conservatory
- French: Dans la serre
- Artist: Édouard Manet
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Date: 1879
- Dimensions: 115 × 150 cm (45.3 × 59.1 in)
- Museum: National Gallery (Berlin) – Alte Nationalgalerie
- Name: Édouard Manet
- Born: 1832 – Paris, France
- Died: 1883 (aged 51) – Paris, France
- Nationality: French
- Notable works:
“One who fears to suffer, suffers from fear.” French Proverb
Photo Credit: Édouard Manet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons