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Indepth Arts News:

"Manet at the Prado"
2003-10-14 until 2004-01-11
Museo del Prado
Madrid, , ES Spain

This October sees the opening at the Museo del Prado of the first exhibition in Spain devoted to the work of Édouard Manet (1832-1883). The exhibition, entitled Manet at the Prado, has been made possible through the sponsorship of the Fundacion Winterthur, and will feature 110 of the greatest works by this French painter (58 paintings, 30 prints and 22 drawings). This is the most significant retrospective to be devoted to Manet’s work since the one held in Paris and New York in 1983. The exhibition is part of a far-ranging collaboration between the Museo del Prado, the Musee d’Orsay (Paris) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).

The latter two institutions recently held the exhibition "Manet-Velázquez: the French Taste for Spanish Painting", but in the present case, the Prado will be focusing exclusively on the work of Manet with the intention of exploring the achievements of one of the most innovative and influential of all 19th-century painters. Manet at the Prado is particularly meaningful given that the artist himself visited the Museum in 1865, inspired by his interest in Spanish painting and its subject-matter as well as by his knowledge of the works of the Old Masters such as Titian and Rubens, whom Manet profoundly admired. The visit to Madrid was decisive for the development of his painting and the exhibition will reflect the influence that Spanish painting had on his work. It will specifically look at his relations with Velázquez, whom he described as "the painters’ painter", and Goya, as well as offering a vision of Manet as a friend of artists, musicians and writers, and Manet as an independent creative painter and one of the key figues in the development of modern art.

The exhibition will include examples of all the different genres in which the artist worked – portrait, still life painting, history and religious painting – and will offer a broad survey spanning his entire career, starting with his early years (The Spanish Singer, 1860, and Mlle. Victorine dressed as a Matador, 1862, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) when he focused on Spanish themes in a search for a modern mode of representation. It covers his trip to the Museo del Prado, which was crucially important for his "Spanish period" (The Balcony, 1868-69, Paris, Musée d’Orsay), culminating with the works of his maturity. Particularly significant is the inclusion of one of the impressionist masterpieces of his last years, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère of 1881-82, which is rarely loaned from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

The exhibition has been made possible through the support of more than 30 institutions and private collections who have contributed through generous loans of works. It will therefore be possible to see many of Manet’s finest painting on show in the Prado, including the Portrait of Émile Zola (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), the Petits Cavaliers (Virginia, Chrysler Museum of Art), Guitar and Hat (Avignon, Musée Calvet), Before the Mirror (New York, The Solomon R. Guggenhim Museum), the Portrait of Faure in the Role of Hamlet (Hamburg, Kunsthalle), In the Concervatory (Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie) and two versions of the Execution of Maximilian (Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glypototek and Boston, Museum of Fine Arts), in which Manet treated a subject from contemporary history –the execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867 - on a monumental scale.

The exhibition will be held in the main galleries of the Museo del Prado, located on the first floor. As a prelude to the exhibition, some works by the artist will be hung in the Central Gallery of the Museum which houses works by artists of the Spanish school, from Ribera to Velázquez and Murillo to Goya, emphasising his relationship to the Spanish Golden Age painters and to Goya, and the key influence that his visit to the Prado in 1865 had on his work.

The exhibition I supported by the Regional Office for the Promotion of Tourism in the Region of Madrid (Turmadrid), the Madrid Institute for Development (IMADE) and the Department of Economy and Planning of the Region of Madrid.

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