The Stuttgart exhibition, evolving from the Staatsgalerie's portrait of »The Painter Monet in His« (1874), examines primarily Manet's position within Impressionism.
The Stuttgart painting, which is in many respects a homage to Monet and his preference for open-air painting, will be surrounded by those works of Manet's which typify his first impression and/or his emphasis on the light which embraces his figures.
Included will be the seascapes and beach scenes painted in Boulogne in 1864 and 1869 and in Berck-sur-Mer in 1873, as well as some of his famous figure compositions of the 1870s, the atmospheric street scenes of 1878 and the luminous gardens in Bellevue and Rueil, painted shortly before the artist's death.
Manet's richly facetted oeuvre clearly reveals two different phases. Whereas during the 1860s his darker shades and abrupt tonal contrasts indicated the artist's reformation of the academic tradition, his lightened palette a decade later reflects a direct observation of reality. Like Baudelaire's flâneur, Manet captures the evanescence of »modern life«.
Mainly because of these later paintings Manet was hailed by his contemporaries as the »Father of Impressionism«. Most of the young artists of his time counted among his closest friends. After Manet had first inspired them to paint more freely, it was he who later marvelled at the luminosity of their open-air paintings, a quality which is regarded as one of the most important characteristics of Impressionism.
The fact that he did not take part in any of their eight independent exhibitions underscores the special position which Manet occupies in this chapter of art history. He stood out not least through his boldness and brilliance of colour, for he did not use the Impressionist technique of complementary contrasts, and his main artistic concern always remained the human figure instead of the atmospheric landscape.
The exhibition visualizes Manet's own individual contribution to Impressionism and offers visitors the unique opportunity of comparing his works with those of his contemporaries.