Édouard Manet

Had a Chinatown family thing going on
Jennifer Tucker


Édouard Manet was a man of honor. And a BAMF. No one got away with messing with this dude...almost.

The art critic Edmond Duranty once gave Manet an exceptionally harsh critique. Being the cool, calm and collected type, Manet slapped him across the face and challenged him to a sword duel. Apparently this was the gentlemanly way to handle conflicts back in the day. The men realized swordfighting is actually harder than it sounds, so they manned up and settled the dispute with a handshake instead.

When he wasn’t kicking butt (sortof) and taking names, Manet was working as a crusader in the art world. Before he began to dabble in the arts, Manet tried to join the Navy, but failed the entrance exam…twice. I think we need to modify an old idiom: those who cannot do, paint! This was a real a bummer for Manet as he had a bit of a nautical thing going on. He once sailed from his native land of France all the way to Rio de Janerio, Brazil. After this early let down he decided to try his hand at painting. Though he's considered a master today, back in his time his art was largely rejected for not being realistic enough. 

Manet may have suffered from commitment issues as well. It took him ten years of dating before he finally popped the question to his future wife and Dutch piano player, Suzanne Leenhoff. His trepidation to tie the knot may have been legitimate seeing as she allegedly had an affair with Manet’s father, Auguste. Blech. Shortly after, Leenhoff gave birth to a son. No one to this day knows if the child was offspring of Manet or his dear papa's. Édouard raised the child anyways even though he may have actually been his brother. If only Jerry Springer was around in the 1800s, he would have a field day with this one.

Just weeks before his passing, Manet had one of his feet amputated due to gangrene. He made it to 51 before he died of syphilis. Perchance he contracted it from his promiscuous wife. It would appear that Manet’s life was filled with rejection, fights, infidelity and STDs. While he may not have bagged the award for the happiest life, he did snag the title of one of the most influential artists in history. 

Édouard Manet is mentioned on Sartle Blog -