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Art Diary

Manet / Degas

24 March 2023

Édouard Manet (1832–83) and Edgar Degas (1834–1917) moved in the same circles, frequented the same cafés, painted the same subjects and helped to define the same movement – but they had very little in common: Manet was gregarious, Degas secretive; Manet was keen for fame, while Degas mistrusted public recognition. They forged a close friendship in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war, and in the years leading up to the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874; after that, relations cooled. This exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (28 March–23 July) highlights the impact of both friendship and rivalry on their art. Early signs of the turbulence that characterised their relationship can be found in Degas’s portrait of Édouard Manet and Mme. Manet (1868–69) which Manet famously cut in half due to his dissatisfaction with Degas’s depiction of his wife, Suzanne – it is has been preserved in its severed state. The show includes a variety of other portraits of one artist by the other, while also considering how developments in style by one party provoked responses from the other. After Manet’s death in 1883, his works came to form a significant part of Degas’s collection – a story which forms the coda to this exhibition. Find out more on the Musée d’Orsay’s website.

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Monsieur et Madame Manet (c. 1865), Edgar Degas. Photo: © Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art

Portrait d’Édouard Manet (c. 1871), Edgar Degas. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Patrice Schmidt

Femmes á la terrasse d’un café le soir (1877), Edgar Degas. Musée d’Orsay. Photo: © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt