Street singer by Edouard Manet

Street singer by Edouard Manet

The picture shows Quiz-Louise Meran, who for many years was a model of Manet. This canvas is far beyond the ocean at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The picture shows a young lady with a frozen look and thoughtful facial expression.

The woman is shown in a tight suit with a layered fabric and folds of clothing. The “game” with the contour lines of the female silhouette: either underlining the contour, or its merging with the background, recalls the way of the image in the works of J.-B. Chardin and other representatives of the Netherlands school of painting. In part, the picture is similar to the paintings of Velázquez, depicting scenes from popular life. The picture is characterized by a common color set.

The artist actively uses shades of beige, brown, gray, black, shades of ocher. The dark door in the background oppresses with its darkness and massiveness. The black hat on the woman’s head almost merges with the ghostly, shady background surface. The figure of the woman is depicted, in all likelihood, opposite one of the bars or cabarets. With her left hand, she presses her guitar to herself and at the same time holds a yellow bag with a cherry.

This picturesque motif intersects with the earlier work of Mane in 1859 “The Boy with Cherries”. With her right hand, a woman touches a handful of juicy ripe cherries to her lips, from which a sweet beautiful melody has just flowed. Edouard Manet loved and highly appreciated guitar music. In particular, the Andalusian guitarist Hubert, who he portrayed on the canvas “Guitarrero” in 1860, had a particularly strong impression on the artist.

With creative energy and inspiration of music and dance, the artist also saturated many of his pictorial creations. The face of the young lady is a little sad, she is immersed in her thoughts. Sadness filled her features and eyes. The portrait is emotionally painted, wide in terms of internal experiences. Before us is just one moment from the life of the singer, but how fully represented her image created by Mane. The image is quite “smooth” written out, with the traditional for academic painting drawing.

The canvas is replete with contrasting combinations of black and red, black and white. The yellow cherry wrapper looks almost the only bright spot. On a dark background, a young face looks bright and completely bloodless. The picture has low light, making all colors look muffled, as if they faded with time. No air and no sense of open space. There is no impressionistic feeling of the endlessness of the light and air environment.

On the contrary, the picture is characterized by a graphical manner of embodiment. And the image of a women’s suit is especially graphic and strict. Strict lines of black frills reinforce the feeling of graphic, linearity, alignment, which in general is not typical for painting. Meanwhile, the image is extremely realistic and vital. Despite the “coolness” of colors, the severity of the lines and not the typical plot for Manet’s subsequent creativity, the picture radiates heat, and life itself is felt through the layers of oil paint.

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