Victorine Meurent Manets Favorite Model English Literature Essay

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The essay is dedicated to the Victorine Meurent, Manets favorite model. It consists from gaining and discussing the information and expressions, which are given in various works about this topic. The essay's core focus is on the main argument of the definition and discussion of the art and models. This paper discuss main points of such questions: who was Victorine Meurent, Manet's favorite model? The mission of the paper is to examine the paintings by Manet featuring Victorine Meurent as a model- The Fifer, the Woman with a Parrot, L'Dejeuner sur I'Herbe- The Picnic on the Grass, Olympia, The Railroad and comparing with similar work by other artists discuss how her personality (what aspects of her presence) shape Manet's depiction of her in her various costumes and contribute to shaping the radical quality of these paintings, and were at odds with the definition of womanhood at the time? Paper research Meurent's life, how does it reveal one of the paths open to women who wanted to be artists in the 19th century? Aim is to see the two paintings of Meurent by Monet at the Metroplitan Museum. Suggested for further reading; Eunice Lipton's Atlas, Olympia and Otto Friedrich's Paris in the Age of Manet. Thus, I am going to show and illustrate all sides of the themes in these questions through this paper.

Gender roles of women and men in the art

It will be appropriately to mention the general development of gender roles in the art and media. Talking about the gender role it should be mentioned that the time change it quickly. Eventually, in the United States, physicians have been men; it was a traditional way of being. However, a few women, who worked in this sphere, caused a special job description: "woman doctor". Later, women become to occupied different professions, which were occupied earlier only by men. Clearly, there appeared special terms like "woman lawyer", "lady barber", "male secretary", "male nurse", and other. In contrast, in the countries of Soviet Union, doctors were in majority women; similarly, in Germany and Taiwan it was greatly common for all of the barbershop's workers to be women. Barely all jobs, which were only female or male, switched genders through out the history. Nevertheless, big categories of jobs are still evolving because being dominated by female or male; it can be said beyond any doubt. Due to World War II clerical jobs used to be occupied only by men, however, some women started filling male's jobs due to, and it resulted in becoming clerical jobs dominated by women. Then such jobs as "typewriters" or "secretaries" became being occupied by women workers. Eventually, it resulted in being these jobs more feminized. There are too many examples to illustrate switching gender roles of many different jobs. Last 100 years, as far as history is concerned, women were strongly fighting for having the same rights as men. Especially their struggle was active from 19th to 20th century, including the fight for women's suffrage, and, obviously, in the 1960s, when second-wave feminism and radical feminism took place. They succeed as well. Women could make changes to the predominated accepting of women gender role. Eventually, mostly feminists nowadays argue that there is work continuing to be done. This is an idea, which had persisted. This is not to deny that the key question of our paper is whether gender role changed or not. A human's gender role is consist of few elements and factors and, clearly, can be expressed through clothing, choice of work, behavior, personal relationships and other various factors. Over time, many various acceptable male or female gender roles without any doubt have emerged. However, each of individuals can identify themselves through different subcultures or even social group.

Talking about mass media it must be said that the influence and experience people gained from it, is greatly and strong. Especially youth and teens are not protected from this kind of influence. Eventually, it causes great changes in their minds. During the war, men, not only American, but men of all nationalities, fought verses, which meant that, unfortunately, millions of wives at home could not have children. Even the period before war, which brought us a time of great depression, or the period after war, when all people grieved over killed or about those, who were being missing. Those, who survived in that hell, which we created by our own, had injuries, not only on the bodies, but souls and minds. It had discouraged couples from starting large families. Nevertheless, in 1945, when horrors ended, the well-nigh inevitable pressures set off a postwar baby boom. Touching the theme of "teen brides", it can be said that mass media, as the church, possessed the capacity to send the same message to all classes at the same time, with confidence in their authority to speak and to be heard universally. Connell (1995) has found that "found it significant that in the postwar era the media's message about women-what they could dream of, set their sights on, and accomplish-underwent a marked shift. The purveyors of popular culture suddenly seemed determined to persuade women that they should not just accept but actually embrace the idealized image of women as wives and mothers" ("Men, Masculinities and Feminism").

Victorine Louise Meurent (February 18, 1844 - March 17, 1927)

Victorine Louise Meurent is known as a French painter and even a popular and famous painters' model. Although Meurent was known as the Édouard Manet's favourite model for paintings, she seemed to be also an artist in her own right; she also exhibited several times (it repeated) at the Paris Salon that was very famous and prestigious. Meurent was born in Paris in the artisans' family. Meurent seemed to start being a model when she was only sixteen years old, and the first experience of a model she gained in the Thomas Couture's studio. According to Main, in 1876 her paintings were selected for inclusion at the juried exhibition, when Manet's work was not. She first worked for Manet in 1862, posing for a painting entitled, The Street Singer (2008, pg 34). Victorine Louise Meurent had really strong character and personality that was depicted and could be noticed in each of her works. When Manet saw Victorine at the street at first time, she was carrying the guitar. Then he first had drawn to her. This gorgeous woman had red hair and petite stature that could not be missed by anyone. She was definitely noticeable. That was illustrated by Manet in his work (watercolour copy) called "Olimpia". The guitar was not only the one musical instrument on which Victorine played. She also played on the violin, and was giving lessons in these two beautiful musical instruments, including the fact that she was singing in the café - concerts. The name of Victorine is traditionally associated with masterpieces of Manet (for example, "The luncheon on the Grass" and "Olimpia" of course, these pictures depict Victorine's portraits.

In the same time, Victorine was a model for Edgar Degas and Alfred Stevens (who is the Belgian painter). However, Edgar Degas as well as Alfred Stevens was Manet's good friend. It is even known that Stevens and Victorine had close relationships (something closer and better then friendship). Meurent was a model for Manet until 1870s (early). However, then Meurent started taking lessons of art and it led to Manet and Meurent estranging. She painted in the other opposite way Manet did, her style was more classical and academic. According to Main, The last painting by Manet in which Meurent appears is Gare Saint-Lazare, which is often referred to as The Railway, painted in 1873. The painting is considered the best example of Manet's first use of the modern approach to subject matter (2008, pg 37).

Three years passed. Victorine Meurent presented her own work at first time. It was at the 1876 Salon. Meurent's work was accepted by people - ironically, at the same year own submissions of Manet were obviously rejected by the jury. Main has stated that Bourgeoise de Nuremberg au XVIe siècle, Meurent's entry at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1879, was hung in the same room as the entry by Manet. Work by Meurent also was included in the 1885 and 1904 exhibitions. In all, Victorine Meurent exhibited in the Salon six times. Meurent also continued to support herself by modelling through the 1880s for Norbert Goeneutte, an artist best known for his etchings today, and Toulouse-Lautrec, who was taken to introducing her as "Olympia" (2008, pg 43). Victorine Maunet had really strong character and personality that was depicted and could be noticed in each of her works. She also had a great will to be famous and wanted to be artists in the 19th century. She passed difficult path to become famous and well known. Victorine Meurnet was supported by Charles Hermann-Leon and Tony Robert-Fleury (who was the Société des Artistes Français founder), thus in 1903 she was inducted in the Société. In 1906, Victorine Meurent and Marie Dufour lived together in Paris for the remainder of Dufour's life, and then Victorine left Paris. She did it for Colombes suburb. However, it became obvious that the house was owned by both Meurent and Dufour. They had shared ownership. In the eighties, Meurent did not stop to refer her person as a great artist and as a talented recorder in a census from the contemporary period. In 1927 (March 17) the world lost great artist and model Victorine Louise Meurent. In 1930, Marie Dufour died. After that, the house's contents were liquidated. Eventually, in the late twentieth century, elderly neighbours seemed to recall the house's contents (that were last), the last contents of the Meurent and Dufour's house included the violoin and its case. Both things were burnt on a bonfire. Victorine Meurent's painting called "Le Jour des Rameaux" or "Palm Sunday" was recovered in the year 2004. Nowadays they hang in the Colombes History Museum.

Images of women through the different times

The images of contemporary women differences from those were earlier. Jean Kilbourne (1987, pg 67) found that "women images changed in that way:

1920s - The flapper look was in (boyish, thin, bound breasts).

1950s - Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess. By our standards today, Marilyn Monroe was fat.

1960s - Twiggy's era, the beginning of the anorexic appearance time. Twiggy was 5'8" and 97 lbs.

1980s - Elle McPherson' time; she typified the strong and lean look.

This ideal that was described is unobtainable by most women. The average women today is 5'4" and 142 lbs. Top models are 5'9" and 110 to 118 lbs. Only 5% of American women approximate the ideal" ("Still Killing Us Softly"). Friedan Betty (1960-1970), noted that "In the 1930s, the woman most likely to appear as a nurse who has "strength in her hands, pride in her carriage and nobility in the lift of her chin… the heroines of-the 1950s, did not have to choose invariably between marriage and career, they could have both. They were "young and frivolous, almost childlike; fluffy and feminine; passive; gaily content in a world of bedroom and kitchen, sex, babies, and home" ("The Feminine mystique"). She tries to make women in minds of society as capable as men to do any kind of work. Depicting women' lives she says, "Each suburban wife struggles with it alone, being afraid to ask even of herself the silent question - 'Is this all?". Friedan's great work have influenced many individuals like educators, writers, anthropologists, journalists, organizations, and your routine and usual woman to follow the feminist movement. For the reasons given above, I should admit how big and significant role Friedan's book plays. Wolf (1998), states that "She helped to change not only the thinking but the lives of many American women, but recent books throw into question the intellectual and personal sources of her work"("The Mystique of Betty Friedman").

In 1980s, men are shown us as a drunken, obese ogre who is stupid and does not behave appropriately, and can not be a good father to his kids. Women are illustrated as sensible, musically orientated, and fun-loving person ("The Simpsons"). However, nowadays men are often shown as the witty, handsome hero, while women are weak, helpless victims (like in the James Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough"). Then Pamela Anderson appeared in media to represent society's typical 'blonde bimbo'. For the reasons given about I can conclude that time changes not only gender roles and stereotypes, but also images of ideal or typical person (man or woman). Women, as I think, are often shown as weak victims, however in life they do the same job the men do, or even harder. Nevertheless, it should be so; women should stay women in the men's arms. In other case, what for do we need the differences between male and female? New time, new style, and new standpoints we will face in future. The role of gender is significant, it was argued through out this paper. In conclusion, it must be mentioned one fact. It was a research about images of male and female in mass media, which causes the specific way of viewing roles of men and women.

Manet's works

This paragraph is about Manet's picture "L'Dejeuner sur I'Herbe- The Picnic on the Grass". The painting is very specific and it can evoke angry as well as admiring. According to Main, picture is the predicament. She is 18, working-class, poor, with a secret ambition to become an artist. He is 30, rich, aristocratic, and a painter. The year is 1862; the setting, his studio in Paris. She is modeling for him, and, as they talk, their ideas merge. Two of the paintings he produces with her will become among the most famous in the world. But the majority of his biographers will ignore her influence. They will say that she was a prostitute and an alcoholic who died young. And, with that damning description, her contribution will be erased from art history (2008, pg 1, <>). "The Fifer" of Manet (1866) seems to depict a young boy, but it really depicts Meurent. Her eyes looks from the other ace, the moutn that is bloked with a hand is an echo from obsession with control of manet.

The "Railroad" of Manet can be described such: the wall in the execution picture corresponds to the grating of The Railroad, which in both divides out a narrow spatial area across the picture and at the same time allows what is behind it to be visible. Even as far as the details of bodily posture, the soldiers are comparable to the otherwise altogether different figure of the girl who looks through the grating (Bernard, 2004, pg 4). In 1866, Manet created one more famous and beautiful picture "Woman with a Parrot", which depicts Victorine Meurnet. She holds a bunch of violets and the monocle cord. This picture is a woman's grace triumph. It depicts native elegance personality that is close to Manet.

According to Dickey, Manet's treatment of Meurent's face, and particularly her expression, did not square with his audience's expectations. He was perceived to be deliberately disfiguring her: "It is said that this young woman was painted from a model whose head is delicate, graceful, and lively.... The head that he gives us is perfectly ugly" (Theophile Gautier, "Le Salon de 1868," qtd. in Cachin 256); "the accessories prevent one from looking at the face, but that's no loss" (Marius Chaumelin, qtd. in Cachin 256) (2006, pg 3, <>). People also traditionally objected to the Victorine's enigmatic expression (that is nearly blank). One could say that Manet's pictures contain the modulation of all colours.

The point is that the way of Manet's painting was different from others. It was not too expressive or too radical, no. But it was definitely talented and gorgeous. The humanity faced great works of Manet and even till now they are discussed and attractive. Meurent's appearance was depicted by Manet in her various costumes and even contribute to the radical quality shaping of Manet's masterpieces. Were Manet's paintings at odds with the definition of womanhood at that time? Her red hair, her face, eyes, mouth, her petite stature - everything in Meurent was unusual and attractive, this Manet tried to depict through his works. Especially I was impressed with "The Fifer" of Manet, where the attractiveness and the woman's character were depicted through the young boy's face and figure. Only one detail opened all the "heart" of picture - eyes. Strange gazing and starring eyes that look at you from the young boy's face showed all the nature of the hero of the masterpiece.


In conclusion, it will be appropriately to mention that Dickey has stated, contemporaries found the expressions of these figures "inexplicably blank, opaque, noncommunicating, without psychological interiority of any kind". Thus, these viewers perceived a deficit in Manet's paintings: the lack of some quality that turns a likeness of a body into the likeness of a person. For them, Manet's figures offered only the exterior appearance of life (2006, pg 4). Victorine Louise Meurent is known as a French painter and even a popular and famous painters' model. Victorine was a model for Edgar Degas and Alfred Stevens (who is the Belgian painter). However, Edgar Degas as well as Alfred Stevens was Manet's good friend. Victorine Louise Meurent had really strong character and personality that was depicted and could be noticed in each of her works. Manet (as it is needed to be) was obsessed with his pure love: painting. He depicted his models in his own way. Thus, viewers could see his thoughts and emotions in his pictures. He is definitely talented and worth of attention.