Manet and Modern Beauty – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleManet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years
EditorsScott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom (Ed.)
PublisherGetty Publications 1st Edition (25 Jun, 2019)
ISBN #1606066048 ISBN #-13 (978-1606066041)     

The editors of this work should be proud. They have managed to create a work of art that Édouard Manet would have considered a fitting epitaph. The publication is dripping with beautifully reproduced works by the brilliant and talented Manet.

Who is the Target Audience?

This book is a must have for anyone who enjoys the Impressionist period of Modern Art. I would especially recommend this volume to students of art history or those with a love of the Impressionist Movement. There is so much information in the book that it could reasonably be considered as an encyclopedia of the artist and his works.


The contents are arranged in an organized fashion with accompanying high-quality photographic images of Édouard Manet’s paintings, sketches, personal letters, and more; much more. The Editors include a useful chronology dating from 1876 until Manet’s death in 1882. You can expect to learn about his background, his years at the Salon (Portrait of Antonin Proust, 1880. Cat. 22). We also learn details of his personal challenges experienced shortly before his tragic death. It is evident from Manet’s works included herein that Velasquez was one of his major influences. I believe that is most evident in Manet’s oil painting on canvas entitled A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881. The Editors have made it easy to reference the illuminations.

The aspect of the book I enjoyed the most is the personal letters which Manet illustrated with wonderful watercolor sketches. Sketches that elevate an otherwise mundane note to a whole new level (See the Chapter entitled: Manet’s Little Nothings). After reading this “Manet Encyclopedia” I have a more complete understanding of the man and his work. I found the Chapter on Manet’s methods and Materials to be interesting and educational; as any artist would. By viewing the artists’ palette, we can see the insight for the paintings he created. There are close up images of individual brushstrokes revealing some of his methods in applying oil paint; an aspect that I found to be very helpful. I adored the summary of pigments detailed in a table complete with abbreviations, techniques employed, and references. There is even a color chart detailing individual colors that Manet used in his palette. Keep a look out for the Chapter on Manet’s private selection of personal letters 1878-83, for a genuine insight into the mind of the artist. It’s appropriate that the chapter of personal letters is followed by Plates that include a Portrait of Édouard Manet, 1867 (painted by Henri Fantin-L’atour) See Cat. 1. The Plates are resplendent with painting after painting. I laughed when I saw his painting of a brioche with a rose in it. This image in particular speaks of the artist’s outlook on life. I have yet to see a better painting of Irises in watercolor than the one contained in this tome.


The book concludes with a Catalogue of the Exhibition – 1866. Manet was at the height of his power as is evident from the contents of the catalogue. The Editors generously provide us high-quality images of the paintings from the 1866 exhibition.
This is the seminal work in my opinion of the late years of Édouard Manet and is a fitting epitaph to the great artist. I have no compunction in recommending this work of editorial art to you.


My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and J. Paul Getty Museum for affording me the opportunity to review “Manet and Modern Beauty.”

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