Saturday, January 26, 2019

In the Conservatory

From Joy of Museums:
“In the Conservatory” by Édouard Manet is set in a conservatory in Paris, it shows a fashionable couple of some social rank. Their married status is conveyed by their rings and the proximity of their hands which reflects a hint of intimacy. The woman is the focus of the portrait, as she is more prominently placed plus her more colourful attire. Their lack of engagement with the viewer creates a sense of detachment.

The conservatory in this painting was in Paris, which was then owned by painter Otto Rosen. Manet used the conservatory as a studio from 1878 to 79. The couple was Manet’s friends, the Guillemets, who owned a clothing shop. In 1945 during the end of the Second World War, this painting was among the objects evacuated from the Berlin Museums and put for safekeeping into a salt mine in Merkers. After the war, the picture was discovered and secured by the Monuments Men. Its salvage was documented in photographs, which show soldiers posing with Manet’s painting in the mine in Merkers. Thankfully it survived those challenging times, and it made its way back to the first museum to own this masterpiece. (Read more.)

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