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Still Life with Fish and Shrimp, 1864

Édouard Manet

French, 1832-1883
Oil on canvas
17-5/8 x 28-3/4 in. (44.8 x 73 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

By drawing on Courbet’s Realism and directing its socially inspired aims toward the more private world of the painter, Édouard Manet came to be recognized as one of the founders of modern art. And like Courbet, Manet employed a direct approach to his subject matter, whether it was a contemporary Parisian figure, a landscape or a still life. Still Life with Fish and Shrimp is a splendid example of this visual frankness. Unquestionably influenced by the French still-life painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Manet takes cues from the eighteenth-century master by presenting us with a straightforward display of salmon, pike, shrimp and parsley. The picture completely dispenses with allegory or symbolism, and its apparent casualness belies its considered arrangement. The head of the pike and the upturn of the salmon tail, the small pile of pink shrimp and the pike’s sharp mouth leading off the canvas, and the strong horizontal, vertical and circular features of the tabletop all carefully counteract one another and produce an extremely balanced composition.

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