Édouard Manet - Gypsy with a Cigarette 1862

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Gypsy with a Cigarette 1862

Gypsy with a Cigarette 1862
92x73cm oil/canvas
The Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA

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From The Art Museum, Princeton University:
Spanish culture and painting fascinated Manet, and the loose, expressive brushwork of Velázquez and Goya heavily influenced him. The subject and identity of the model are perhaps less critical for the interpretation than the way in which the artist presents this exotic "other," who transgresses the norms associated with respectable French women of the era. Dark skin and tousled black hair mark her as an outsider, as does the bold, frontal pose. With one hand on her hip and a cigarette dangling from her lips, she exudes audacious self-confidence. Her gaze into the distance lends a thoughtful, even contemplative air. Manet’s composition is equally daring. It includes passages that are difficult to read and optical inconsistencies, like the form on which the woman leans. Objects are cropped at unusual places — the horse’s head is cut off behind the ear. Manet seems to have considered the canvas unfinished, and it is difficult to know how he would have completed it. Gypsy with a Cigarette thus remains a tantalizing work, one of Manet’s most enigmatic images of a daydreaming woman.