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Manet and His Critics
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Manet and his Critics is a closely-documented case study of the relationship of the artist to society. Mr. Hamilton draws on contemporary newspapers, periodicals, letters, and critical essays to examine the critical tempest that Manet's paintings created in his time. He follows the evolution of Manet's style, his struggles to have his work accepted, and the history of both the abuse and praise he received.
Some of the criticism was bitter and some ridiculous (one critic wrote, "Manet, who ought not to have forgotten the panic caused by his black cat in Olympia, has borrowed a parrot from his friend Courbet and placed it on a perch beside a young lady in a pink dressing gown. These realists are capable of anything!"), some knowledgeable and some not. Mr. Hamilton's book assesses the range of these reactions, and the result is an illuminating study of the relation of Manet's painting and its principles to the contemporary practices of 19th-century French art.