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Le balcon, 1868-1869
|Artist||Manet, Édouard||Although this painting was inspired by Goya’s “Majas on a Balcony”, nothing could better clarify Manet’s procedure than a comparison of the two. Where Goya is murky and sinister, Manet is urbane and elegant. Where Goya strikes a fundamental sexual contrast, Manet contrives a formal pictorial arrangement out of a group of friends taking the air.
The brunette with the penetrating gaze id Berthe Morisot, who later became Manet’s sister-in-law. Her natural distinction as a person and her subtlety as a painter both drew Manet’s profound admiration. Behind her is the painter Antoine Guillemet, a minor figure in the Impressionists movement. To the right is Jenny Claus, a violinist.
Manet’s image of Berthe Morisot has no hint of the sensuality of Goya. Instead, he has conjured up a vision of diaphanous charm a la Gainsborough, but unlike Gainsborough has strengthened it with the force of an abstract structure. The balcony, which in Goya’s picture fences in the human passion and is properly dark, here establishes the prevailing tonality of green. It also sets up expectations of a formal organisation in narrow rectangles and acute triangles, which the reader may discover for himself.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||170 x 124.5 cm|