Manet’s “Philosophers of Velázquez” on view in Pasadena

The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is currently exhibiting a rare collection of three paintings by Manet which haven’t been shown together in 55 years.

The Norton Simon Museum, located in Old Pasadena has a very rare collection of three paintings on display. Perched above the town on its high street, the brick building has a new exhibit to offer: Manet’s Philosers. 

By Oliver Grouille – 11th grade

At the age of 33, in 1865, Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883) travelled to Spain to “see all those beautiful things and seek the counsel of maestro Velázquez ”. The paintings of Diego Velázquez, a master of  Baroque painting of the Spanish Golden Age, Aesop (1638) and Menippus (1638), served as Manet’s inspiration for this trio. Often cited as the bridge between realism and impressionism, Manet’s true goal was to create a link between historical artistic tradition and everyday life. Manet set out to juxtapose Velasquez’s paintings of true philosophers with beggars in the same light. He kept the “ Painter of Painters’ ” dark background, life size and true format, but merely replaced the subjects. 

Norton Simon Museum

Beggar with Oysters (1865-1867) and Beggar with a Duffle Coat (1865-1867) are both on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, reunited with The Norton Simon’s very own Ragpicker (1865–70). These three paintings really are some of Manet’s most thought provoking work now and at his time. See, when Manet was creating these pieces of art he really was creating scandal. Across his work he was trying to send a message to the French elite that the working class did have worth and value. By flipping a traditional and conservative style of art on its head, whilst authentically implementing its techniques, Manet was establishing the lower class as a dignified part of society. 

These three paintings really are breathtakingly special and do indeed deserve your attention.  This exhibit will be available to the public right up until the last day of  February. I hope you can enjoy them in person as much as I did.

Norton Simon Museum
Norton Simon Museum

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