born Paris 1832, died Paris 1883
Manet's father, a wealthy magistrate, first resisted his son's desire to paint. In 1850, Manet entered the atelier of Thomas Couture, where he spent six years. Manet supplemented his training by studying the old masters and Velásquez, whose influence can be seen in the sober palette and lone figure of Street Singer.
Manet's unconventional flatness, bright tones and contemporary subjects shocked a public accustomed to the smooth surfaces and classical motifs of academic painting. The jury rejected his first Salon entry in 1859, but awarded him an honourable mention in 1861. In 1863, all of his entries were rejected and exhibited instead at the Salon des Refusés. Manet showed his work frequently and earned success at later Salons and in private galleries.
Though admired by younger artists, including Monet, Manet never exhibited with the Impressionists. In the 1870s, he introduced Impressionist colour and brushwork to his work. He made his Boston debut in 1880 with the exhibition of The Execution of Maximilian (1868-69; Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim). The adventurous Boston collector Sarah Sears bought Manet's Street Singer in 1895, probably through the recommendation of Mary Cassatt, the artist and friend of Degas, who admired Manet's modernity.
Basket of fruit, Édouard Manet, c1864
oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, bequest of John T Spaulding