In the Conservatory Edouard Manet Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The prominent artist Edouard Manet conceived the oil on canvas painting, In The Conservatory, in 1879 in France.

The painting is set in Paris at 70 Rue d’Amsterdam where Manet used the apartment as a studio. The painting illustrates a couple, the Guillemets, who were the artists close friends and owned a clothing shop. The painting is one of Edouard Manet’s most famous pieces, beautifully painted in an immense amount of detail. In The Conservatory illustrates a wealthy couple, outside in the neighbourhoods of Paris. The woman is dressed in a dark grey classic dress during the era, accompanied by a large black bow in the middle.

The woman accessories with yellow details, with tight yellow gloves, a yellow undershirt, a light yellow scarf, and a long umbrella in different shades of yellow. On her head, the woman wears a luxurious yellow lace hat, melded in the form of flowers. The woman is the main subject of the painting, accompanied by a man dressed in a black suit jacket, and nude coloured dress paints. Their rings held closely together manifest the married status of the couple. The fashionable couple seem to carry an intimate touch between the two. The body language of the women is showcased as she leans against the bench with one leg prompted, and an arm against the backing of the bench.

On the other side, behind the bench stands her husband, slouched looking towards the woman. As the woman is sitting with straight posture looking forward, a sense of detachment between the couple is arise, as the man is slouch looking at her. There is an evident power dynamic showcased, where the woman holds more power than the man. The emotion felt through the piece is a sense of conflict within the relationship, as if the woman is mad at her husband. The woman is painted in detail, especially around the centre of her face, illuminating her white skin and tired eyes. However, Manet had decided to take a different approach as he painted the husband, using darker tones around his face, with less white precision.

The man’s dark beard over powers his face, creating two different tones between the man and woman. The background of the setting offers lush exotic greenery, with palm vegetation, bringing into question the exact setting of the painting. The bench the couple posed upon carried the classic architecture of the time, alongside the sleek black colour. The potted plant to the left of the couple suggests the classic Chinese vase during the era, once again illuminating the theme of luxury within the piece.