Thursday 12 June 2014

Woman with a Fan


Woman with a Fan, by Edouard Manet at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

This is a portrait of Jeanne Duval, lover and muse of Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire, more than any other informed Manet's understanding of modernity and inspired him to define his own formulation of the 'painter of modern life'. In this portrait Manet uses her presence to probe the idea of modernity and the importance of fashion within that, in the context of contemporary art.

The dominance of the great crinoline skirt within the composition highlights a new aesthetic where the ephemeral predominates. The dress is white and hence establishes the dominant colour note of the composition and the play between light and white. The paint is loosely worked giving the impression of being unfinished.

The strong face of the sitter contrasts strongly with the 'femininity' of her fashionable attire.


T.J. Clark, Manet, Portraying Life.

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