Edouard Manet – The Boat

In the epoch-making impressionist movement of the 1870′s in France, Mallet and Claude Monet were leaders. Manet in his early works had revived the Spanish style of painting, that of Velazquez, in long, broad, rough, abbreviated strokes, with a tendency to flatten out the masses least important in the picure. His early painting are rather dark; but later on, as in this one, he fills these flat strokes with sunlight and color. In -places where an es ecial s arkli effect is wanted, such as the such as the water-reflections at the left, he also uses the impressionist “broken color” technique small distinct strokes` of contrasting color side by side. But he uses it less constantly than Monet, contrasting such places with broad solid areas like the light blue cabin of the boat, and the man’s light yellow trousers. These areas are luminous in a way that few other painters have been able to duplicate. It is due not only to skillful blending of tints within each area, but to juxtaposing them with the proper contrasts. They produce the added value of definite color-pattern, often lacking in Monet’s soft hazes. Cast shadows are used, but displaced or omitted with great freedom. They are put on where the pattern seems to need a contrasting dark patch, and omitted when it needs a broad light patch. Sometimes they are elongated, to serve as broad, irregular, ribbonlike outlines, and thus accentuate the divisions of the design. A comparison of these points with the Utamaro print (Fig. 15) will re-veal the importance of the Japanese influence at this stage of Manet’s career, mingling with Spanish and impressionist influences.

He builds up a firm basic design of long straight lines and, flat curves, emphatically rhythmic, then leaves other parts (such as the woman in the very sketchy and vague: The right of the artist thus to omit details of nature, if he does not require them in a particular design, was one of the chief doctrines of the impressionists against the academic conservatives of their day. The latter called such pictures as this mere unfinished sketches. But from the artist’s point of view, and from that of modern criticism, the picture is finished when he has said what he has to say.