Art Nancy Locke Manet and the Family Romance

ISBN 13 : 9780691114842

Manet and the Family Romance

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9780691114842: Manet and the Family Romance


Édouard Manet's paintings have long been recognized for being visually compelling and uniquely recalcitrant. While critics have noted the presence of family members and intimates in paintings such as Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, Nancy Locke takes an unprecedented look at the significance of the artist's family relationships for his art. Locke argues that a kind of mythology of the family, or Freudian family romance, frequently structures Manet's compositional decisions and choice of models. By looking at the representation of the family as a volatile mechanism for the development of sexuality and of repression, conflict, and desire, Locke brings powerful new interpretations to some of Manet's most complex works.



Locke considers, for example, the impact of a father-son drama rooted in a closely guarded family secret: the adultery of Manet père and the status of Léon Leenhoff. Her nuanced exploration of the implications of this story--that Manet in fact married his father's mistress--makes us look afresh at even well-known paintings such as Olympia. This book sheds new light on Manet's infamous interest in gypsies, street musicians, and itinerants as Locke analyzes the activities of Manet's father as a civil judge. She also reexamines the close friendship between Manet and the Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, who married Manet's brother. Morisot becomes the subject of a series of meditations on the elusiveness of the self, the transience of identity, and conflicting concerns with appearances and respectability. Manet and the Family Romance offers an entirely new set of arguments about the cultural forces that shaped these alluring paintings.


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Review :

The nude women in Olympia and Déjeuner sur l'herbe and the other self-possessed figures who stare out at the viewer from Édouard Manet's paintings have long been fascinating mysteries to art historians. Other aspects of Manet's work--figures with implausible postures, strange perspectives--have been equally baffling. Add the artist's propensity for portraying street people of his era in a dreamlike manner hardly consistent with the realism you'd expect from "the painter of modern life," and you have the material for a rich vein of speculative academic writing.

In this stiffly written book, Nancy Locke, an associate professor of art history at Wayne State University, proposes a new way of looking at many of these works. Without denying their importance as reflections of society at large, she argues that they also reflect psychosexual aspects of Manet's personal life. Locke attempts to build a case for what she calls "a Freudian drama, complete with Oedipal desires, dilemmas of illegitimacy, and real and imagined deaths and absences" based on a number of intriguing but shaky-sounding suppositions.

The "family romance" centers around Suzanne Leenhoff, whom Édouard's well-to-do father, Auguste, hired as a teacher for his sons. When Édouard was 20, she gave birth to a child named Léon, whom she passed off as her younger brother. The artist, who married Leenhoff more than a decade later, portrayed her in such paintings as La Nymphe surprise. It has long been assumed that Léon, who also appears in several of Manet's works, was Édouard's son. But Locke thinks Auguste was the father, and marshals circumstantial evidence ranging from contemporary letters to provisions of the Napoleonic Code. Of course, the value of Locke's theories rests on their ability to give us useful insights about Manet's paintings. A more forthright and persuasive writer might charm us with the sheer novelty of her ideas--or more airtight arguments. Is La Nymphe Manet's "attempt to imagine his father's desire for the woman who was his mistress"? This reader is not convinced. --Cathy Curtis

From the Back Cover :


"Manet and the Family Romance will be a thunderbolt thrust into the community of Manet scholars, recasting our comprehension of some of the touchstones of modern painting in terms of the Freudian family romance. Nancy Locke's persuasive psychoanalytic study has also unearthed precious and altogether new information about the artist's family and the social and personal conditions in which he worked. Indeed, a central achievement of this book is its demonstration that social history and psychoanalysis need not be mutually exclusive."--Hollis Clayson, Northwestern University


Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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