Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting of the Week: Edouard Manet, The Railway

Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: Edouard Manet, The Railway

In 1873 when this painting was created by the realist master Édouard Manet, the Gare Saint–Lazare was the largest and busiest train station in Paris. But here it is rather invisible. The main subject of the piece is the woman with a child. The woman is Victorine Meurent, also a painter and Manet’s favorite model in the 1860s who appeared also in his Olympia and the Luncheon on the Grass, and the child is the daughter of a fellow painter and neighbor Alphonse Hirsch, who allowed Manet to use his garden to create The Railway.

Edouard Manet The Railway Édouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Édouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The pensive subject is wearing a dark hat and navy blue dress with white details and is looking towards the viewer, while a sleeping puppy, a fan and an open book rest in her lap. A little girl next to her is wearing a contrast white dress with large blue bow, standing her back to the viewer, watching through the railings as a train passes beneath them. Maybe she is a 19th-century young trainspotter? The black band in the girl’s hair echoes the black band around the neck of the woman. Resting on a parapet to the right of the painting is a bunch of grapes, perhaps indicating that the painting was made in the autumn. The dog may be a reference to Titian’s Venus of Urbino; Manet had earlier echoed Titian’s composition in his Olympia.

Instead of choosing the traditional natural view as background for an outdoor scene, Manet opted for the iron grating. The only evidence of the train and the train station itself is a white cloud of steam. In the background, we can see modern apartment buildings including the house on the Rue de Saint-Pétersbourg, near the Place de l’Europe, where Manet had rented a studio since July 1872 – and also a signal box and the Pont de l’Europe famously depicted by Gustave Caillebotte.

Edouard Manet The Railway Édouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., detail

Édouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., detail


Manet submitted four works to the Paris Salon of 1874. Of the four, only two were accepted, The Railway and a watercolor. Reviewers were critical of the unfinished appearance of The Railway and that the rail station itself was not well-defined in the picture. Although Manet never chose to associate himself officially with the impressionist group, this painting’s scene of modern life, as well as its loose, abstract effects, show the influence of the younger artists on his work.

Edouard Manet The RailwayÉdouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., detail

Édouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., detail

Shortly after it was completed, the painting was sold to baritone Jean-Baptiste Faure. It was then sold in 1881 for 5,400 francs to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who gave it several names: Enfant regardant le chemin de fer, Le pont de l’Europe, A la Gare St. Lazare, and later just Gare St. Lazare. It was sold again on 31 December 1898 for 100,000 francs to American Henry Osborne Havemeyer. His wife Louisine Havemeyer left 2,000 artworks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on her death in 1929, but she divided a small collection, including The Railway, among her three children. The painting was donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1956 on the death of her son Horace Havemeyer.


 

Find out more:

.  . 

Art Historian, founder and CEO of DailyArtMagazine.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • Ancient

    Painting of the Week: Fragment of a Floor Mosaic with a Personification of Ktisis

    By

    The bejeweled woman from the mosaic, holding the measuring tool for the Roman foot, is identified by the restored Greek inscription as Ktisis. She is a figure personifying the act of generous donation or foundation. Ktisis, in Greek ktísis – is the creation (creature) which is founded from nothing (this is also...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Winslow Homer, Summer Squall

    By

    The crashing waves roar with a deafening thunder, and the foamy spray flies with a quickening speed. Great gusts of wind blow the waters over the rocks and over the sea shore. A storm of monstrous size lands aground and wreaks havoc upon humanity and nature....

  • Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London

    Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus

    By

    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660) was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age and European Baroque. And The Rokeby Venus is his only surviving nude, three others are mentioned...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Camille Pissarro, Rainbow at Pontoise

    By

    Camille Pissarro has an interesting portfolio of paintings. His works are divided between cosmopolitan views of Paris and countryside views of Pontoise. He is an artist that easily fits in sumptuous parlors and sunny parks. Rainbow at Pontoise is one such painting that showcases the rural charms of the...

  • Artist

    Botero and His Characteristic Chubby Style: Boterism

    By

    Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, demonstrates how differently we can all view the same object. Although, Botero is known for creating thick fat looking figures in his art, he argues that his intention isn’t to represent weighty figures. Instead, his aim is to give prominence to volume....

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy