What Makes Edouard Manet the First Great Modern Artist?: The Influence of Charles Baudelaire’s Aesthetic Theory on Manet’s Painting

Author: Ligo, Larry L.R.
This book is a slightly revised one volume edition of the author's two volume Manet, Baudelaire, and Photography. It is a thorough examination and interpretation of nearly every major painting that Edouard Manet publicaly exhibited between 1861-1882 in his struggle to create a new style called modern art. The author demonstrates that Manet developed a unique and new style of painting by employing Charles Baudelaire's aesthetic theory. In this way Manet created the characteristic style of modern art.


“In order to appreciate Dr. Larry Ligo’s monograph, we need to see it in the larger context of Manet studies in particular and of the current state of art historical methodology in general. Since the early 1970s, the discipline of art history has been undergoing a number of seismic changes that Manet scholarship, including the book at hand, exemplifies … An increasing number of art historians are committed to a corrective pendulum swing that would refocus attention on recovering what Umberto Eco calls ‘intentio operis.’ These reformers insist that knowledge of the past may be imperfect, but it is not impossible. While much of the ‘Old Art History’ needed to be discarded, Dr. Ligo demonstrates that iconography, at least, must remain an essential hermeneutic tool for inviting the viewer ‘to see something which is right there in the text’ – which is undoubtedly the strength of this work.”
– Professor Bradford R. Collins,
The University of South Carolina

Table of Contents

162 Color Illustrations

Part One
1. Baudelaire’s Response to Manet’s Work
2. A Summary of Baudelaire’s Aesthetic
3. Photographic Features of Baudelaire’s Aesthetic
4. Photographic Features of Manet’s Mature Style
Part Two
5. 1859-1861: The Emergence of Manet’s Mature Style
6. 1862: Manet as a “Man of the Crowd”
7. 1862: Manet’s Visual Manifestos
8. 1863: Manet Exhibits a “Triptych”
9. 1864: Two Paintings of Death
10. 1865: The Resurrection of Olympia and Other Paintings of Death and Melancholy
11. 1866: Japonisme as a Further Development of Manet’s Aesthetic
12. 1867: Manet’s One-Person Exhibition and the Death of Baudelaire
13. 1867-68: Remembering Baudelaire
14. 1869: The Salon of 1869 as Manet’s Venue for Works Honoring Baudelaire
Part Three
15. 1870: Manet’s Acknowledgement as a Painter of Modern Life
16. 1870-1875: Manet’s “Impressionism” as a Further Refinement of his Aesthetic
17. 1875-1879: Manet Further Underscores the Interrelatedness of His “Impressionism” of the 1870s and His Aesthetic of the 1860s
18. 1880-1883: Self-Evaluation and Retrospection