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Painted Theory of Art: "Le suicidé" (1877) by Édouard Manet and the Disappearance of Narration

Ulrike Ilg
Artibus et Historiae
Vol. 23, No. 45 (2002), pp. 179-190
Published by: IRSA s.c.
DOI: 10.2307/1483687
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1483687
Page Count: 12
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Painted Theory of Art: "Le suicidé" (1877) by Édouard Manet and the Disappearance of Narration
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Abstract

The present article centers on Manet's painting "Le suicidé", so far little discussed in modern research. The reluctance of the painter to represent suicide within a narrative context is here considered as the most salient feature of this canvas and serves as a key for its interpretation. As further analysis shows, Manet's approach contradicted the tradition of representing suicide, according to which this subject was normally reserved to history painting and focused on the very aspects Manet chose to omit. It is argued that the artist thus deliberately displayed his disregard of the principles of academic painting and that "Le suicidé" was an artistic manifesto of Manet's position within the Realist movement.

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