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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

A companion exhibition to Manet: Portraying Life (Canaday Gallery, October 7, 2012–January 1, 2013), Prints and Authors from the Time of Manet explores the graphic arts produced during Édouard Manet’s lifetime (1832–1883). Featuring more than 120 books, photographs, and prints, the exhibition highlights a turbulent era in Europe and America.

Manet came of age during a time of revolutionary change in society and the arts in Paris. In 1848 King Louis-Phillipe of France abdicated, forced from office by massive street protests. Louis-Napoléon, nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte, was declared emperor in 1851. His reign brought a period of stability and prosperity known as the Second Empire. As part of that reign, in 1853, Baron Haussmann began the renovation of Paris, transforming the cramped, over-grown city into the Paris of today, full of broad streets and beautiful parks.

Largely rejecting the idealized biblical, mythological, and historical subjects that had been popular at the Salon (the official annual juried art exhibition), Manet and other forward-thinking artists took inspiration from the ordinary life around them. In the spirit of experimentation and with the desire to depict modern life, the art of etching was revived; photography (only invented in 1839) developed into a powerful combination of art and document; and authors and artists collaborated to produce illustrated books on modern subjects.