The Ragpicker
c. 1865-1870
Édouard Manet (French, 1832-1883)
On View

The Ragpicker represents one of the practitioners of a now-obsolete profession that involved sifting through the detritus of daily life—not only rags, which were sold to paper manufacturers—but also kitchen scraps, soap and other castoffs that were left out for trash collectors. Sorting garbage might sound like work for the truly destitute, but these scavengers were regulated, semiprofessional recyclers of city waste, and they were seen as a discrete social type, one that was free from the restrictions and inhibitions of a traditional bourgeois lifestyle.

Manet, who was experiencing his own sense of alienation and rejection from established art circles, may have identified with his embattled subject. Both artist and ragpicker could be seen as bohemians who operated on the margins and earned a living by making use of the stuff of everyday life. The small still-life element in the lower foreground of this painting, a pile of opened oyster shells, coupled with a broken champagne bottle and lemon peels, may symbolize this shared creative act.


  • Artist Name: Édouard Manet (French, 1832-1883)
  • Title: The Ragpicker
  • Date: c. 1865-1870
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 76-3/4 x 51-1/2 in. (194.9 x 130.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1968.09.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

The artist, sold 1871-72 for Ff. 1000 to;
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, for Ff. 1500 to];
Ernest Hoschedé (1837-1890), Paris (sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 5-6 June 1878, lot 45, as Le Mendiant, for Ff. 800 to);
Duquesne, Paris.
Fernand Crouan, Nantes, by 1884.
Adolf Rothermundt, Blasewitz (near Dresden), by 1906-1921.
[Paul Cassirer, Berlin].
Josef Stransky (1872-1936), New York, 1921.
Adolph Lewisohn (d. 1938), New York, by 1926, to;
[Wildenstein & Co., New York and Paris, by 1931].
[Wildenstein & Co., New York, reacquired ca. 1950, later sold to];
H., Geneva (Mr. Schlepfer), by 1964 until at least 1967;
[Wildenstein & Co., New York, sold March, 1968 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Elfte Ausstellung der Berliner Secession

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Additional Artwork by Artist

Madame Manet Édouard Manet 1874-1876
Still Life with Fish and Shrimp Édouard Manet 1864

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