The Rue Mosnier With Pavers, 1878
|Artist||Manet, Édouard||From 1872 until early July 1878, Manet occupied a studio on the second floor at 4, rue de Saint-Petersbourg, with a view down the rue Mosnier (rue de Berne since 1884), newly laid out , and described in Zola’s Nana a few months after the date of this canvas as a somewhat disreputable thoroughfare.
Shortly before his departure from this “slice of life” observatory, Manet painted two views of the rue Mosnier with flags flying .
In technique and subject matter, Manet is here very close to the Impressionists. Monet had painted a series of Parisian scenes in 1867 and 1873. But as in Pissarro’s Boulevards of the 1880s, Monet’s point of view is higher with a panorama effect, an indistinct bustle of humanity far below, and an opening to the sky above; or else it is at ground level, the sky even more predominant but the passer-by not more clearly discernible. With Manet, in his painting, the line of sight is virtually horizontal, and the emphasis is on the human figures, more individualised , caught in mid-step.
As in the other Rue Mosnier canvases, the absence of sky should be noted – an approach very different from that of the Impressionists. For Manet , the street was not an element of city scape but a locus of city life. He admired Monet and Renoir especially, among the young Impressionists, and very likely the theme was inspired by Monet. But a landscape, seascape, or cityscape claimed Manet’s attention only insofar as it was a setting for human activity. His vision was not one of pastoral or unanimist contemplation; when he painted the Trocadero, it was as the site of the Exposition Universelle; when he depicted the Pantheon, the occasion was a funeral. There had to be flags flying , or pavement being laid, if a street was to be chosen as a subject.
For Manet – spectator, flaneur, confirmed city dweller -Paris was never scenery but was a place of life, of involvement, of wonder. During the 1860s, Parisians witnessed the work of Hussmann – scenes of demolition, construction, and road work. Paris was a perpetual construction site, and these humble pavers of the rue Mosnier are a record in art of the fifteen-year metamorphosis experienced by Manet.
Manet’s fascination with the life of Paris was to grow ; it is known that the following year he submitted a proposal to the prefect of the Seine for decorating the municipal Council Hall in the Hotel de Ville with scenes of everyday Paris. One can half imagine, from The Sue Mosnier with Pavers, what Manet’s conception was like; apparently he received no reply and the project never came to fruition.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||63.5 x 80 cm|