The muse of the painting was Zacharie Astruc; a significant figure in the second half of the 19th century, who was a sculptor, painter, poet and art critic. As an art critic, Astruc was one of the first individuals during the time period to witness the talent of Manet. Astruc had an in-depth knowledge on Spain, and had introduced Manet to the culture, which had influenced an array of his paintings in the future.
The Portrait of Zacharie Astruc manifests the poet seated against a desk starring at the viewer. Astruc is clothed in a black dress shirt and jacket, with a glimpse of white linens exiting the color of his shirt. The muse seems to wear a red undershirt underneath, alongside burgundy pants. Astruc hold his right arm partly within his shirt, as if he is trying to reach his heart in pain. The muse has thick facial hair, alongside black hair. Astruc’s hair and jacket blend into the black background of the wall, yet carry a lighter texture to accentuate the difference. The muse sits against a small table, covered in books, sketchbooks, tools and pencils.
The contents of the desk explain the identity of Astruc as an artist, poet, sculptor and art critic. The table cloth beneath the items on the desk carries the burgundy shades as a table cloth covers the table. Upon closely analyzing the tablecloth, the viewer is able to witness minor details on the burgundy illustrating a floral pattern. The interesting aspect of the piece is the left background behind the table. The artist Edouard Manet showcased another glimpse into Astruc’s life with a woman cleaning the living room. The woman is clothed in a light blue fabric, holding the similar tones as the background that are illuminated in shades of white, grey and blue.
Similarly, Astruc’s portrait based in black clothing nicely blends into the black walls he is seated against. The theme of alike colours continues, as the burgundy shades of Astruc’s pants and the table are located at the bottom of the painting. Manet had strategically created the painting to highlight these different shade areas, allowing the piece to come together and highlight one another. The Portrait of Zacharie Astruc successfully incorporates the technique of impressionism alongside a minor glimpse of realism upon painting the portrait.