Édouard Manet - The old musician 1862

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The old musician 1862

The old musician 1862
187x248cm oil/canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, US Chester Dale Collection

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From National Gallery of Art, Washington:
In a review of the 1846 Salon, poet and critic Charles Baudelaire urged artists to depict "the heroism of modern life." Manet embodied Baudelaire's ideal painter of contemporary Paris. Emperor Napoleon III ordered the renovation of Paris under the direction of Baron Haussmann, and early in the 1860s the slum where Manet located his studio was being razed to accommodate the planned broad, tree–lined boulevards that still characterize the city. In this painting, Manet represented a strolling musician flanked by a gypsy girl and infant, an acrobat, an urchin, a drunkard, and a ragpicker—individuals the artist might have observed near his studio. The seemingly casual gathering is composed of the urban poor, possibly dispossessed by Haussmann’s projects. Neither anecdotal nor sentimental, Manet’s portrayal carries the careful neutrality of an unbiased onlooker, and this distinctly modern ambiguity and detachment are characteristic of all Manet's work