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This show is the first to explore the marine paintings of Edouard Manet and his contemporaries, including such Impressionists as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Berthe Morisot, who were deeply influenced by Manet's seascapes. When Manet first began painting seascapes in the 1860s, the tradition of marine painting in France was governed by well-established conventions that had become stale and tired. Manet's beautiful and challenging views of the sea created new interest in this subject among the younger generation of painters.
While French Impressionist landscape painting is both popular and well-studied, the numerous seascapes produced by Manet and his Impressionist contemporaries have yet to receive the attention they deserve. Because the sea is a natural force in a constant state of flux, it offered Manet and his followers the perfect vehicle for developing new painting techniques and compositions. In addition, the social world of Manet's Paris was not absent from the seaside. Like many Europeans of his era, Manet took numerous seaside holidays for his health. He and his contemporaries recorded not only the sea and its changing moods but also the many fashionable people who traveled to the sea in search of an escape from city life.
Manet and the Sea brings together innovative and compelling works on sea-related themes by a variety of artists with differing ambitions. At the same time, it addresses emergent socio-historical phenomena, such as tourism, that made marine subjects newly attractive to vanguard artists in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The exhibition includes approximately one hundred objects—paintings, watercolors, and drawings—from sixty public and private collections in the United States and abroad.