Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Déjeuner sur L'Herbe" by Monet (NOT Manet)

I'm preparing a lecture on the Impressionists, and I've been completely distracted by Monet's Déjeuner sur L'Herbe ("Luncheon on the Grass"). Yes - that's not a typo. I meant to write "Monet," not "Manet."

Maybe you're saying "What?" just like I did fifteen minutes ago. Don't get too bewildered: Manet DID a very seminal painting that is called Le Déjeuner sur L'Herbe (1863). And Manet's painting is infinitely more well-known than Monet's early work with the same title. But allow me to bring Monet's painting out of obscurity:

Monet, Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe, 1865-66

It's interesting to see a painting by Monet that includes human figures. (You can see a figure study for this painting here.) I'm so used to seeing Monet paintings with haystacks and Rouen Cathedrals and water lilies and train stations - it's so nice to see something different. You also might have noticed that this painting was made just about two years after Manet completed his painting with the same title. A coincidence? Definitely not. There's no question that Monet was influenced by Manet.

Other painters were also influenced by Manet's 1863 painting. Cezanne did his own picnicking painting with the same title, and Picasso did several versions that were directly inspired by Manet. In fact, the Musee d'Orsay did an exhibition (which ended in February 2009) that revolved around Picasso's variations of Manet's Le Déjeuner sur L'Herbe. Here's one Picasso example:
Picasso, Le Déjeuner sur L'Herbe after Manet, 27 February 1960

So, what do you think? Did you know that Monet painted a Déjeuner sur L'Herbe? (I really hope that I'm not the only one who was unaware of that fact.) Which version of the subject matter do you like the best?