More about Madame Auguste Manet
Madame Auguste Manet is a painting depicting the Swedish woman Eugenie-Desiree Fournier, also known as the mother of the French artist Edouard Manet.
Before having connections to Impressionist Royalty, Eugenie-Desiree Fournier had connections with some real royals. Eugenie’s father, Jean-Antoine Fournier, dabbled in politics in Sweden. He worked for the Swedish crown prince Charles Bernadotte, advising him on French-Swedish relations. Their influential work relationship resulted in the Swedish crown prince becoming goddaughter to Eugenie. That’s not all. Jean-Antoine went further and named his newborn daughter after Bernadotte’s wife, Eugenie Bernhardine Desiree. It’s not bad to know some royals, especially after falling into poverty, which, unfortunately, occurred after Eugenie’s father died when she was thirteen. The connection to the Royal house remained intact, and when Eugenie married Auguste Manet, the Bernadotte’s sent over luxurious gifts.
While papa Manet was pushing his son to become a lawyer, mama Manet encouraged his artistic side. Even her brother, Edmond Fournier, encouraged Edouard to become an artist. He escorted the fifteen-year-old Manet around museums and provided him with drawing lessons. Making art was an act of rebellion for Edouard. Forget law and order, bring on the divine beauty of art!
In 1857, Auguste Manet, a judge at the Palais de Justice, suffered a stroke, leaving him paralyzed. Five years later, Auguste died. Despite the family tragedy, Edouard’s work flourished. Madame Auguste Manet was completed the same year as Olympia and Luncheon on the Grass, two paintings that made Manet a megastar (or the late 1800s equivalent).
After her husband’s death, Eugenie socialized little, but she wasn’t a complete shut in. Eugenie got on alright. Edouard and his little brother Eugene were constantly coming around, with their wives, Suzanne Leenhoff and Berthe Morisot dropping in too.
Mama Manet posed for Edouard many times. As supportive as she was, I'm sure she’d be just as happy with an "I heart mom" tattoo on his arm.
- Byrne, Ciar, “Exposed: the Family Secret Behind Manet’s Most Controversial Picture,” The Independent, August 12, 2004. Accessed September 13, 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/exposed-the-family-secret-behi…
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