In 1863, a French modernist painter named Édouard Manet shook up Parisian society with his painting Luncheon on the Grass. Turned down by the Paris Salon, the painting was exhibited in the Salon des Refusés—a collection of works rejected by the artistic establishment of the day. The nude model lounging alongside several well-dressed men caught audiences off guard. However, for contemporary writer Émile Zola, “the Luncheon on the Grass is the greatest work of Édouard Manet, one in which he realizes the dream of all painters: to place figures of natural grandeur in a landscape. We know the power with which he vanquished this difficulty.”
Shaking up expectations—with subjects and scenes nonetheless grounded in the Old Masters—Manet became an inspiration for the rising young artists who would soon define the Impressionist movement. Although he considered himself a 19th-century Realist, Manet's portraits of Parisian characters, charismatic renderings of café life, and loosely painted florals established him as a transitional figure in art history.
Scroll down to learn more about the Father of Modernism in an infographic all about Manet.