The Street Singer

This Manet painting provides a very intriguing glimpse into the life of an individual. Inspired by a fleeting moment in which he spotted a musician leaving a bar in the streets of Paris, Manet presents a piece that is charming. While he could not get the actual woman to pose for him he enlisted the help of his friend and favorite model, Victorine Meurent. The portrait shows the woman exiting a bar with her guitar and a parcel of cherries. Our focus is on her expression, she is just about to place some of the small red fruit into her mouth as she makes eye contact with the viewer. She appears very much in the moment, prepared to move on to her next task. Her belongings are held closely at her side, her coat is buttoned at the chest, and her black hat is centered neatly on top on her head. The brushwork is extremely rich and, as you travel further away from the focal point, much broader. We see people in the cafe in the background, but we don’t know much more than the fact that they are there. The composition is a very good example of the impressionist period because of the essence of the scene. Along with the fleeting moment and somewhat mysterious subject matter the painting has a very interesting perspective and quality of light that we seen with Manet pieces and more broadly, the latter half of the 19th century.

-RS

The Street Singer, Edouard Manet, c. 1862, 67 3/8 x 41 5/8 in, Oil on canvas