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Nana by Édouard Manet

Nana by Édouard Manet

Nana by Édouard Manet

Nana by Édouard Manet shows a young woman who stands before a mirror with two extinguished candles; her face turned to the viewer. Her dress is incomplete. She is wearing a white chemise, blue corset, silk stockings and high-heeled shoes. The interior suggests that it is a boudoir. Behind the woman is a sofa with two pillows. An elegantly dressed man, sitting on the couch, can be partly seen on the right of the painting.

The title and the many details suggest that the picture represents a high-class prostitute and her client. “Nana” was a popular assumed name for female prostitutes during the second half of the 19th century. Painted in 1877 it was refused at the Salon of Paris because it was deemed to be contemptuous of the morality of the time. French society was not prepared for such frank depictions of prostitution, and the critics did not see the artistic qualities of the work as they focused on the subject of the painting.

One of the defenders of Manet was Émile Zola who in 1880 published a novel of the same name as the ninth volume of Les Rougon-Macquart series. It is also likely that Manet found inspiration in L’Assommoir by Zola in which the character of Nana.

Édouard Manet

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 much 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 style that served as a significant influence on future painters.

Reflections

  • What is she thinking?

Nana

  • Title:                    Nana
  • Artist:                  Édouard Manet
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Date:                   1881
  • Dimensions:        Height: 154 cm (60.6 ″); Width: 115 cm (45.2 ″)
  • Museum:             Kunsthalle Hamburg

Édouard Manet

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Édouard Manet Quotes

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“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.”

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“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.”

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“One does not paint a landscape, a seascape, a figure. One paints an impression of an hour of the day.”

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“No one can be a painter unless he cares for painting above all else.”‘

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“One must be of one’s time and paint what one sees.”

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“If I’m lucky, when I paint, first my patrons leave the room, then my dealers, and if I’m really lucky I leave too. ”

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“One must be of one’s time and paint what one sees.”

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“I paint what I see and not what others like to see.”

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“It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us, imagination is worth far more.”

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“I would kiss you, had I the courage.”

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“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another. ”

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“There is only one true thing: instantly paint what you see. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. When you haven’t, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.”

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“The country only has charms for those not obliged to stay there.”

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“I am influenced by everybody. But every time I put my hands in my pockets, I find someone else’s fingers there.”

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“Color is a matter of taste and of sensitivity.” 
– Édouard Manet

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Photo Credit: Édouard Manet [Public domain]

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