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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Édouard Manet
French, 1832–1883

Ablutions (La toilette)

Etching, 1862
Frederick Museum purchase, 1925.58

Édouard Manet began his career as a graphic artist in about 1860 during the etching revival, one of the outstanding “avant-garde’ movements of 19th-century Europe. In the course of his extensive printmaking career Manet was a paradigm of the 19th-century etcher as defined by the critics Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier. Etching was for Manet a medium of creative, individualistic expression, qualities which these critics singled out as the virtues of modern art in general. The freshness and immediacy of Manet’s etchings were a visual retort to the “slavish and mechanical” nature of photography.