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Artist: Manet, Édouard 3 of 3 Previous Previous | Next Next

The Ragpicker, c. 1865-1870

Édouard Manet

French, 1832-1883
Oil on canvas
76-3/4 x 51-1/2 in. (194.9 x 130.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1968.09.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Parisian through and through, Édouard Manet depicted contemporary social types of his favored city throughout his career. From high class courtesans to bourgeois flâneurs to familiar street figures, Manet was intent on presenting the world that he inhabited. The Ragpicker is one such social type, and it would have been familiar to all of Manet’s contemporaries. Collecting rags to sell to paper manufacturers, these figures lived life on their own terms, outside of the restrictive expectations of society. They were also highly romanticized at the time, as they stood as an emblem of the charm of a Paris that was disappearing as the city was rebuilt by Napoleon III in the 1860s. Despite this strong contemporary resonance, Manet’s Ragpicker (among four “beggar-philosophers” created by the artist) was directly inspired by Diego Velázquez’s seventeenth-century treatment of the same theme. Having visited the Prado in 1865, Manet gushed over the works by the Spanish master, employing a similarly straightforward composition, monochromatic palette, and beautifully executed still-life in his own representation of the subject. Manet often turned to his seventeenth- and eighteenth-century predecessors for inspiration, incorporating the art of the past into the artist’s very tangible Parisian present.

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Artist: Manet, Édouard 3 of 3 Previous Previous | Next Next