Connect with us – Art History Stories

What Edouard Manet and Saint Francis have in common?

Édouard Manet, Flowers in a Crystal Vase, ca. 1882, detail, National Gallery of Art


What Edouard Manet and Saint Francis have in common?

Edouard Manet once remarked: “I should like to be the Saint Francis of still life”. While the comparisons between Manet and Saint Francis may not be immediately obvious, in some ways, Manet did achieve his goal.

Both Manet and Saint Francis confronted their contemporaries with new ideas and approach to what they both dedicated their lives to. Saint Francis to religious life, and Manet to art.

Edouard Manet - Flowers in a Crystal Vase. c. 1882, in National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Manet and Saint Francis

Edouard Manet, Flowers in a Crystal Vase. c. 1882, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

By founding an Order of Friars Minor, Saint Francis opposed the ideology of other orders of his time which aimed to accumulate power and wealth. In a similar break with orthodoxy, Manet introduced “pure colour”, a collection of dashes of colour, in opposition to classical paintings of the time with their flowing tones.

Edouard_Manet_Vase of Peonies on Pedestal. 1864. in Musee d’Ordsay, Paris

Edouard Manet, Vase of Peonies on Pedestal, 1864, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Both loved life and nature and managed to express this love through the smallest and simplest things. Saint Francis was known to give sermons to birds, fish and flowers. Manet believed that “a painter can say anything he likes with fruit, flowers or even clouds”. At the end of his life, when advanced disease prevented him from painting large canvases, he created his the most beautiful still natures. He painted bouquets brought by his friends, or sometimes even single, common objects such as lemon or bunch of asparagus.

Edouard_Manet_Bunch_of_Asparagus 1880, In Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne Manet and Saint Francis

Edouard Manet, Bunch of Asparagus 1880, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne

One of the bouquets created in that period stands out from the others – Carnations and Clematis, 1882. In its simplicity and modesty, it is the sweetest and most charming of Manet’s paintings.

Edouard Manet, Carnations and Clematis, 1882, in Musee d'Orsay, Paris Manet and Saint Francis

Edouard Manet, Carnations and Clematis, 1882, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

What Manet and Saint Francis have the most in common is, that both were remarkable people, who were ahead of their times and made an undoubtful mark on the history of western culture.

Find out more:



More in Impressionism

  • 19th Century

    6 Highlights from the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin


    Let’s explore some highlights from the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the preeminent collection of 19th century art in Germany. The gallery was founded in 1861 after a bequest by banker Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Wagener. He requested that the paintings in the collection be publicly displayed. The...

  • 19th Century

    5 Things You Need to Know About Australian Impressionism


    Australian Impressionism might not be as well known as its French counterpart, but this late 19th century art movement was important to the country. In fact, some consider these artists to be part of the first truly Australian art movement. Australian Impressionists sought to capture the...

  • Art Travels

    Monet: Using the Home and Garden as Inspiration


    We are currently confined to the spaces of our homes and gardens. Claude Monet used his beautiful home and garden in Giverny, France as the source for many of his paintings. We can all learn from the way that he recreated nature to produce some of...

  • 19th Century

    When the Arts Meet: Art Inspired Album Covers


    If music is the soul of an album then the art on the cover must be its body. The choice of artwork for an album cover is an important one because at a glance it conveys the style and atmosphere of the music. Usually musicians commission...

  • cover cover

    19th Century

    Negligee Fashion: Top 5 Gorgeous Homewear Outfits in Art


    Due to quarantine, homewear fashion is popular once again. But don’t think that boudoir fashion was unpopular before this. As art shows, from the second part of the mid 18th century, negligee fashion becomes mainstream! Because dressing up took plenty of time and visitors could arrive...

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