Edouard Manet
(Paris, 1832-1883, Paris)
Oloron-Sainte-Marie, 1871
Oil on canvas, 42.5 x 62.5 cm
Signed (& dated?) lower right: Manet (71 ?)
Rouart/Wildenstein 163
In September 1870, Manet had brought his family, his mother, his wife and their son to a safe haven from the turmoil of war, to Oloron-Sainte-Marie in the French Pyrenees, while he himself served as an artillery lieutenant. After the end of the war, he left Paris on February 12, 1871 to see his family again. He spent about one week in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, where only two pictures were done: a landscape sketch and the painting in the Bührle Collection. Léon Leenhoff, Manet’s 19-year-old son, leans over a gallery railing on the upper floor of the house of the Lailhacar family, who had taken in the Manets. What fascinates us today, but probably shocked sensibilities then, is the cool hardness of this gallery in the foreground with its grey walls, its bright red posts and its marked perspective in contrast to the picturesque confusion of rooftops and the hilly landscape of early spring outside, with only the silhouetted figure at the railing forming a transition.