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The Reading, 1865-1873

 
 
 
 
 
Details     Description
   
Artist Manet, Édouard

The following painting was first exhibited in 1880 in one of the regular solo exhibitions mounted by Manet in his workshop. The picture was also part of the great posthumous exhibition of Manet’s work in 1884, a year after his death. It depicts the artist’s wife, Suzanne Manet (born Suzanne Leenhoff), seated, and their son, Leon, standing and reading a book. The artist first met Suzanne, who was an excellent pianist, when she was initially hired in 1851 by his father Auguste, as piano teacher for Manet and his brothers. In their early twenties, Suzanne and Édouard developed a personal relationship and were romantically attached for approximately ten years. After Édouard left his parents’ home he and Suzanne lived together, although they kept their relationship secret from Édouard’s father. In 1852, Leenhoff gave birth, out of wedlock, to Leon. Suzanne and Édouard were finally married in October 1863, a year after the death of Édouard’s father. Eleven-year-old Leon, whose father may have been either the artist or his brother, posed often for Manet.

In The Reading, Suzanne’s white dress dominates our attention and the sofa and curtains are treated with broad strokes of brightness, in counterpoint to the dark tone of her belt and jet bead collar. The canvas is noted for its delicate handling of various shades of white, as the dress is set off against the equally bright sofa and surrounding curtain fabric. Manet employs severe cropping again, as the depiction of Leon cuts off his whole body, allowing us only a view of his profile head and arms. On the other side of the canvas, the large plant is also significantly cropped, creating the impression that we can only see a segment of a typical interior scene of everyday life.

The painting first belonged to the private collection of Winnaretta Singer, Princess Edmond de Polignac, where it remained until 1944. After the death of the Princess, it was offered as a gift to the French State and deposited in the Musée du Louvre. In 1947, it was transferred to the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, a showroom located in the Jardin des Tuileries and which belongs to the Louvre. It remained there until 1986, when, following its founding, it was brought to the Musée d’Orsay.

 

Inventory number

RF 1944 17

 

Provenance:

Until 1944, in the Princess Edmond de Polignac collection, née Singer

1947, accepted by the State as a bequest from Princess Edmond de Polignac, née Singer, to the Louvre Museum (committee of 06/27/1945, council of 07/03/1945, order of 01/19/1947)

1947, accepted by the State as a bequest from Princess Edmond de Polignac, née Singer, to the Louvre Museum (committee of 06/27/1945, council of 07/03/1945, order of 01/19/1947)

1944, attributed to the Louvre Museum, Paris

From 1944 to 1947, Louvre Museum, Paris

From 1947 to 1986, Louvre Museum, Jeu de Paume Gallery, Paris

1986, assigned to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

 
Date

1865-1873

 
Institution Musée d'Orsay
   
Medium Oil on canvas
 
Dimensions 60.5 x 73.5 cm
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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