In the concluding part of my discussion of Impressionism I will be considering the role of the Flaneur , the rise of Bourgeois and petit Bourgeois artists and writers who strove to establish themselves in 19th Century Paris.
19th Century art a critical history gives a useful social commentary of the Milieu which Manet and his friends would inhabit.
” The extent of the erosion of the rich and complex symbolic life in Paris during the 2nd empire can easily be exaggerated . the fear and disparagement of Modernity after all are integral parts of Modern Culture itself”. .
” Seeking to cushion themselves against the shocks of Capital or to carve out an Identity in an environment increasingly bereft of Social markers a number of Individuals , including the poet Baudelaire and the painter Manet adopted the sub-cultural stance of the Flaneur”. .
Explaining the role of the Flaneur 19th Century art goes on to describe them as Idlers or Browsers around the streets of Paris.
” The very embodiment of the modern male individualist became more and more himself. The flaneur was a perpetual Idler, Browser or window shopper who saw the City of Paris as a spectacle created for his entertainment”..
” The street becomes a dwelling place for the Flaneur Walter Benjamin the great Social and Marxist critic wrote. He is as much at home among the facades of homes as a citizen in his four walls”. .
19th Century art continues to describe what constitutes Modernity and elegant society.
” In Music in Tuillieres perhaps the earliest example of Modern painting in both subject matter and technique. Manet has interspersed his many fashionable friends and acquaintances among a larger cross section of elegant society”. .
” Artists like Manet and the Painter and graphic artist Constantine Guys- worked outside the Institutional framework of the academy were natural Flaneurs. they had no fixed occupation and hardly even a settled abode travelling between home and studio and vagrantly searching the city for Models and Motifs”. .
19th Century art commenting on what the Flaneur represented decides that he cut a contradictory figure in 19th century France.
” Like Baudelaire the Male artist- Flaneur was a politically contradictory figure. the flaneur was a minor thorn in the side of a despotic regime that survived on the pageant of manipulated consent”. .
” He was for the most part (Flaneur) no patriot and no cheerleader yet he was at the same time an eager propagandist for Modernity”. .
19th Century art continues its commentary on Manet and the social role he played as a driving force in the Impressionist movement in Paris.
” At times however Manet appeared to resist the given structure of class, gender and ideology, thereby achieving something of the Individualist or autonomy which he and his contemporaries claimed to seek”. 
” Olympia which immediately eclipsed dejeuner de’herbe as the most notorious painting in the History of art is the case in point. it depicts a naked white woman reclining on a bed gazing at the Viewer and a clothed black woman holding a bouquet of Flowers and gazing at Olympia”. .
The Commentary shows how Manet provoked the critics of the Academy who were not prepared for the Revolutionary aspect of Impressionism and was a direct challenge to the French salon.
” Manet indeed provoked critics and Bourgeois public alike by his subversion of the genre of the Nude and his rejection of the received ideas of Sex and Race”. .
” In the end it must be observed that Manet’s Olympia was probably more Modern than it was avant-garde, although it represented two proletarian Women they were of the politically ambiguous lumpen variety”. .
The commentary of 19th Century art now suggests that Manet through his Modernism is bringing Enlightenment and Utopian pleasure to Paris.
” Like the Flaneur Manet the Impressionist was determined to discover for themselves a semblance of the Individual freedom , self-determinacy and sensual pleasure that constituted the utopian legacy of Enlightenment and revolution”. .
” The Impressionist were indeed Individualists who lacked the world Historical ambition, romantic fervour and avant garde convictions of the two previous generations of French and European artists”. .
19th century art considers that the Impressionists around Manet were too young to be aware of the carnage and destruction carried out against the Commune and Paris itself.
” Born around 1840 they were too young to watch in shock horror the Prussian dismemberment of France in 1870-1 and the French massacre of its own citizens during the suppression of the commune that followed”. .
” The Impressionists were thus in the main witnesses of or willing propagandists for the emerging and modern forms of Bourgeois recreation of their day”. .
19th Century art now concludes with two comments about the importance and Influence of Impressionism.
” In 1874 therefore the term Impressionism denoted a vaguely defined technique of Painting and an attitude of individualism shared by a group of allied artists led by Manet “. .
” The Impressionists (especially Monet Pissarro , Morisot and Alfred Sisley) painted many of their most ambitious works in Plein -air and discovered a technique for evoking the interaction of light and air in nature”. .
This concludes my discussion of Impressionism a Revolutionary art Movement founded in Paris by the Flaneur Edouard Manet. In future articles I will be concentrating on Art Nouveau and Art Deco decorative movements which emerged before and after the First world war.
- 19TH CENTURY ART A CRITICAL HISTORY: MODERN ART AND LIFE: MANET AND THE IMPRESSIONISTS. PG. 283