Hello there! This week our friend Art Giraffe is visiting the classic Edouard Manet painting, Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe (“The Luncheon on the Grass”). What a strange and intriguing piece! When it was first exhibited in 1863, it caused plenty of controversy, not least of all because it features a nude figure alongside clothed people. The scandal was heightened by the fact that the figures in the painting were actually identifiable!
It should be noted of course that it wasn’t the first painting to have ever shown clothed figures together with nudes. But Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe had the distinction of placing them in a completely informal and contemporary setting. Not only that, the subjects seem to be utterly unconcerned. Outrageous!
Other criticisms of the painting were of a more technical nature; the painterly style of the background and seemingly cavalier attitude to scale were noted. It was as if the figures had simply been planted in an artificial backdrop. Compare the woman in the river with the boat to her right!
I think it’s a brilliant and splendidly baffling painting. It was a real joy to recreate. And if you happen to notice that about an tenth of the left-hand side of my painting is missing, don’t worry, I noticed too. It has to do with the book I copied it from.