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from 08 March 2017 to 02 July 2017
Palazzo Reale, Milano

Manet e la Parigi moderna

Press Release

«Manet is as important for us as Cimabue and Giotto were for the Italians of the Renaissance»

Pierre-Auguste Renoir


These assertions by renowned painters – his contemporaries – should suffice to convey an immediate idea of the central role Edouard Manet played in the history of European art. This bold and courageous man full of special charisma and extraordinary artistic talent set out to endow the greatness of classical painting with the freedom of modern art. And there is no doubt that he succeeded. His prestige, his innovative ideas and skills in the field of painting, were soon to make him the unsurpassed leader of the Impressionist movement to which he never really wanted to belong: he did not take part in eight of the Impressionist shows held between 1874 and 1886, exhibiting instead – notwithstanding the possibility of his being rejected – in the Salon, the only venue whose authority he recognized. From the start, he aimed to be recognized as an innovator, someone who would lead art onto the path of modernity. He would succeed in this with extraordinary effectiveness through the virtuosity of his magnificently inventive painting style, his vivid use of colours, and the slant of his compositions; an ascent that would only end with his untimely death.


The exhibition Manet and Modern Paris that opens 8 March in Milan on the main floor of Palazzo Reale – until 2 July – aims to relate the artistic progress of this great master (1832-1883) who in little more than two decades of intensive work produced 430 paintings, two thirds of which were copies, sketches, minor works or unfinished. The corpus in itself is not so extensive but it was able to revolutionize the concept of modern art. His life intertwines with that of many other celebrated artists, some of whom were companions of Manet's during his life and work, and with whom he frequented the same cafés, studios, summer residences and theatres.


The works in the exhibition have come from the prestigious collection in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Of the one hundred works, 55 are paintings: these feature 17 masterpieces by Manet and a further 40 splendid works by his celebrated contemporaries, including Boldini, Cézanne, Degas, Fantin-Latoure, Gauguin, Monet, Berthe Morisot, Renoir, Signac, and Tissot. Apart from the works on canvas, there are in all 10 drawings and watercolours by Manet, some twenty drawings by other artists and, in all, seven maquettes and sculptures.  


Promoted and produced by the Cultural Department of the Milan City Council, Palazzo Reale and MondoMostre Skira, curated by Guy Cogeval, long-standing president of the Musée d’Orsay and of the Orangery of Paris, with the two conservators of the museum, Caroline Mathieu, honorary conservator-general, and Isolde Pludermacher, conservator of the department of paintings, the exhibition sets out to celebrate Manet's central role in modern painting through the various genre that he worked on: portraiture, still life, landscape, women, and Paris – his beloved city, revolutionized in the mid-19th century by a new urban plan carried out by Baron Haussmann, which brought about a new way of life in the streets and stations, in the Universal Expositions, and in the plethora of new buildings that were to change the city's face and mood.


The exhibition is divided into ten themed sections:

. Manet and His Circle

. Hispanism

. Still Lifes

. On the Riverbanks

. Paris, the Modern City

. The Hidden Side of Paris

. The Works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, maquettes

. Parisian Festivals

. In White: the feminine world and private places

. In Black: the passers-by and their mysteries