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Paris. Cafés, amis et impressions
Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Édouard Manet. 1865
The Musée d'Orsay
exhibits one of my most famous works,
but also one of the most criticised. Obviously, being the forerunner of the current that would be called "Impressionist" also brings heavy criticism. I loved scandal, and at the Salon, I wanted the bourgeoisie to look at my work, shocked, so that they would squint their eyes and make gestures of denial. I loved provocation so much that,
after the heavy rebukes I received for my Breakfast on the Grass, I decided to totally revise Olympia, the painting I was doing, to make it more shocking. In the canvas I painted Olympia, a completely naked woman, lying on her unmade bed, adorned only with a gold bracelet and a thin velvet collar,
with a teardrop pearl and with a slipper dangling on her left foot, looking directly at the viewer, with slight impudence. It caused quite a scandal when it was exhibited at the Salon in 1865; so much so that it had to be removed... There were bourgeois who, on visiting the Salon, would have liked to destroy it with umbrellas, so indecent did they find it!
As much as I considered myself ready to face negative judgements, I once confessed to my friend Baudelaire, who supported me, that I had never been so offended by the slander of the critics. Normally, I was pleased if the public considered me provocative, transgressive and even excessive, but on this occasion, the attacks hurt me deeply.
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