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31.7.04

Manet's Seascapes

An article (Manet au sommet de la vague, July 29) by Jean Pierrard in Le Point describes an exhibit (Édouard Manet: Impressions of the Sea) at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, until September 26:

One's appreciation should be nuanced, however, because when you look closely, however Manet may paint a Norway pine or the Folkestone mail carriage, there is never a misplaced pulley or rope on his ships. The sea? Manet had a professional's knowledge of it! Did it not earn him his first adult emotions when, at age 16, between two failures at the Naval School, he set out as a ship's pilot for Brazil?

A voyage of initiation, not technically that different from the one undertaken a few years earlier by his friend Baudelaire. On board the Havre et la Martinique, when he was not sketching the crew, Manet spent his nights noting down the play of light and shadow between the waves. During the day, he tirelessly measured the horizon. The lesson had not been forgotten when, sixteen years later, he attempted his first seascapes.
Of course, this show has already appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago, from October 20, 2003, to January 19, 2004 (where Terry Teachout saw it and wrote about it, memorably, for About Last Night on January 7, as did Amanda Paulson for the Christian Science Monitor on October 24), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, from February 15 to May 31, 2004 (where Roberta Fallon saw it and wrote about for Artblog on March 17). I found it interesting to compare the three Web sites for this exhibit:
· Van Gogh Museum: three small images of paintings and not much else (cost of ticket: €12.50 [$15])

· Art Institute of Chicago: 18 nice images of paintings and lots of narrative (cost of ticket: $12 on weekdays or $15 on weekends)

· And the clear winner, Philadelphia Museum of Art: 10 nice images of Manet paintings (and a handful by other painters), a Teacher Packet of information and images, a nifty online form of Manet's Boulogne Sketchbook, and a section called Manet for Kids (cost of ticket unknown)
If you use all three of these sites, you can see a fair number of works in the show, but not all of them. Grrr.

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