Artist
Édouard Manet
French painter

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Édouard Manet
French painter

Birth Date

January 23, 1832

Death Date

April 30, 1883

Contributor

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. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet (US: /mæˈn, mə-/; UK: /ˈmæn/; French: [edwaʁ manɛ]; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

Born into an upper-class household with strong political connections, Manet rejected the future originally envisioned for him, and became engrossed in the world of painting. His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) and Olympia, both 1863, caused great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the start of modern art. The last 20 years of Manet's life saw him form bonds with other great artists of the time, and develop his own style that would be heralded as innovative and serve as a major influence for future painters.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Édouard Manet.