The Milliner 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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Edouard Manet's painting, The Milliner, showcases the classic Parisian woman, through an oil on canvas piece from 1881.

Manet is a prominent impressionist painter, with his work as a cornerstone showcasing modern art while illustrating glimpse of realism. Manet’s work embodies contemporary art through the different techniques he incorporated in his brush strokes, tones and textures. The Milliner is one of Manet’s final paintings, manifesting his progression into the style of modernism. The theme of female sophistication is a topic Manet had begun painting, and had continued to near the end of his career. The piece showcases the real world and its events, rather than allegory and historical ideology. The woman within the painting remains unknown after years of research.

The painting illuminates a sophisticated Parisian woman, showcasing her elegance through her attire and the atmosphere. The piece illustrates the muse dressed in a black ruffled chiffon cover up, exposing her bare shoulders, accompanied by a white dress underneath. The woman wears a gold plated bracelet around her wrist, holding a foreign object that remains unknown, however seems to be structured as a purse. The woman’s open shoulders adds a sexual allure to the piece, acknowledging the presence of the viewer, however tilted away from the viewer. The body language of the muse adds the emotion of interest, questioning the story behind the piece. The exact origins and context behind the painting remains unknown, however hints that perhaps the piece was set in an intimate setting. Or, the painting could be conceived based on Manet’s imagination. The woman looks straight ahead, allowing for a side profile to be painted. The woman seems to manifest a small smile out of the corner of her lips, giving the piece a positive emotion.

The background of the painting is engulfed in a dark floral print, illuminated with colours of purple and burgundy. The background nicely blends into each other with brush strokes of impressionism, alongside showing a few details of realism. The background nicely adds to the dark texture located throughout piece, incorporating gloomy colours. The dark warm colours add to the emotion of the piece, alongside a glimpse of sexual allure as the woman smiles ad exposes her shoulders to the viewer. The piece seems to add a piece of melancholy for the artist, as his disease had begun to seize his artistic ability slowly. The piece showcases one of Manet’s final pieces, incorporating his identity into a beautiful impressionist piece. The piece continues to fascinate art critic through decades, witnessing the piece as the epitome of Manet’s work.