Thursday, November 21, 2019

Victorine Meurent (1844-1927) - model for Édouard Manet

Victorine Meurent, the nineteenth-century model who appeared in Edouard Manet's most famous paintings.

Best known as the model for a number of paintings by Édouard Manet, including Olympia (1863) and Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863), Victorine Meurent (sometimes spelled Meurend or Meurand) was also an artist in her own right.

Olympia is a painting by Édouard Manet, first exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon, which shows a nude woman ("Olympia") lying on a bed being brought flowers by a servant.

Meurent began her modeling career at the age of sixteen, when she posed for Thomas Couture, an artist who also offered drawing classes for women. She first worked for Manet in 1862, posing for a painting entitled The Street Singer. He continued to use her as a model at various times until 1874.

Edouard Manet’s 1862 painting Street Singer announced a new kind of art. In contrast to the old, academic way of doing things – stately renderings of scenes from history, the Bible or mythology – the young Frenchman painted life as it surged through the streets of Montmartre and the Marais in Paris.

This painting was inspired by a casual encounter between Manet and a woman guitarist on the streets of Paris. He asked the woman to pose for him, but she refused. Instead, he used a model, Victorine Meurent, who became a favorite for future compositions.

At some point in the early 1870s Meurent traveled to America. By 1873 she was back in Paris, dedicating herself to her painting and showing her work for the first time. In 1875 she became the student of Étienne Leroy, a portrait painter whose work had been shown at the prestigious Paris Salon; and in 1876 one of Meurent's works, a self-portrait, was selected for the Salon’s annual show.
Victorine Meurent (1844-1927) - model for Édouard Manet

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