Young Lady 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, Young Lady 1866, is a classic realist piece that illuminates the style of the era.

The painting showcases a detailed young woman (Manet’s traditional muse, Victorine Meurent), accompanied by her grey parrot. Edouard Manet had described the piece as a “current vice” to “value a head more than a slipper”. The painting manifests a woman clothed in a loose white-nude dress that flows down to the floor. The dress is incredibly textured and showcases different areas of shade and light. She wears a tight black necklace with a gold medallion in the middle, paired with an innocent purple ribbon within her hair.

The woman stands besides her parrot that sits on a brown wooden pole. The parrot is painted immensely textured, enhancing each feature that lies on dark grey animal. At the bottom of the pole, falling upon the woman’s dress lays an orange partially peeled. The orange discarded on the floor illuminates a feeling of luxury within the painting, as the fruit was rare to obtain and was only available to the upper class. The model holds a small blue flower to her nose in her right hand, accompanied by a monocle she dangles in her left hand.

Many scholars have argued that the piece carries the sub context of a secret message, the allegory of the five senses. Different objects within the piece are said to illustrate this idea. The small blue flower’s the woman holds to her nose are sail to illustrate the concept of smell. The orange displayed on the floor half peeled is meant to display taste. The grey companion next to her, the parrot is meant to illustrate hearing. Finally the monocle the model dangles in her left hand is argues to represent sight and feeling. The painting is argued to hold an immense number of meanings behind the piece, as the emotion felt by the viewer is on a cooler tone.

The painting, Young Lady, holds an immense amount of unanswered questions, with an uncommon array of objects prompted together. The colouring of the silk dress the model wears suggests and innocent feel, as she is clothed in white. Alongside, the light blue ribbon within her hair adds to the innocent emotion within the piece, accompanied by her pet parrot. Yet, the background of the piece is based on dark greys, adding a gloomy melancholic emotion to the painting. Edouard Manet’s work is an evident realist piece that is incredibly detailed in each component of the painting.