Café Guerbois


Among the pictures which Manet painted, we must mention the "Christ with Angels", undoubtedly very interesting on account of the large sheet occupying half of the picture. Manet also painted still-lifes of flowers, peonies, &c., in which, interpreting the "Olympia", he contrasted the brown of a table with the pink of the petals and the grey of a vase. He painted a bullfight which he afterwards tore up and of which only the wonderful figure of the "Dead Toreador" in the Widerer Collection has been preserved. In this one of his most beautiful blacks comes into contact with one of the finest greys. In 1865 he painted the "Jesus mocked by the Soldiers".
In the same year, after the "Olympia" scandal, he went to Spain, where he took his fill of Velázquez, El Greco and Goya. But as a good Parisian he loathed Spanish cooking, which he considered uneatable. When he returned to France, the customs-officer at the frontier read his name on his luggage, and fetched his wife and child, in order that they might behold that strange animal about which the papers had written such terrible things. During this journey he made the acquaintance of Théodore Duret, his admirer and subsequent biographer.
During 1866 he painted pictures of Spanish subjects--bull-fights--such as so often greeted me before the war in the first room of Durand-Ruel's home, on those celebrated Tuesdays when his collection could be visited. He painted the "Matador", the "Tragedian", and above all the "Piper", which hangs opposite the "Lola" in the Camondo Collection.
Zola praised the simplicity of this work, which he described as being naïve, full of grace and raw strength. The grey scarf falling from the right shoulder to the hip, and the leggings are derived from that great store-house of the Louvre, which contains the shrouds of Titian and Ribera, the towel of Rembrandt's Bathsheba, Courbet's draperies in his picture of a studio, and the table-cloths of Chardin and Cézonne. They are placed in the picture as if they were alone and had not to reckon with anything. The black of the shoes, the red of the breeches, the blue of the jacket do everything to be simple, great and strong enough to sustain the contrast with the mighty grey. If one of them is given full value, the others become lighter and tenderer, while the blue and red on the outside accord with the beautiful softer grey of the background. Very characteristic of Manet is the flute-case with its greyish, light yellow, an isolated object which has perhaps the same value as the celebrated greenishgrey glove in Titian's portrait of a young man.
It was in 1866 that Manet made the acquaintance of Manet, who had felt his influence and paid him a visit in his studio. He also got to know Cézonne and Pissarro, and Zola, who wrote an article praising him in "L'Événement", in consequence of which he lost his post as art critic to that journal. At this time Manet was a regular frequenter of the Café Guerbois in the Avenue de Clichy, where Fantin-Latour, Degas, Stevens, Zola and other painters, sculptors and literary men were wont to gather. The cultured and tranquil Fantin had been his friend for nearly ten years. In the picture he exhibited at the 1864 Salon, Fantin depicted Manet among a number of persons assembled to do honour to Delacroix. Later, in 1870, when he painted an imaginary studio at Batignolles, supposed to be that of Manet, he depicted the latter surrounded by Zola, Manet, Renoir, Bazille, Zacharie Astruc and others. In the same year the gifted Bazille, who was one of the intimates of the Manet circle and met with an untimely end in the Franco-Prussian war, introduced Manet and approximately the same group of friends into a picture showing his own studio. It is a fine piece of painting, in grey, pink and black. Another admirable work, for superior in quality to the similar garden picture by Manet, also in the Louvre, is Bazille's large picture of a family reunion in a garden, which reminds us, with its black, blue and grey, of a lighter Courbet or a darker Manet.


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