Portrait d’Emile Zola (1868) by Edouard Manet

Portrait d'Emile Zola - Edouard Manet - 1868

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Artwork Information

TitlePortrait d'Emile Zola
ArtistEdouard Manet
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions146.5 x 114 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris
Location Created Paris, France

About Portrait d'Emile Zola

The artwork “Portrait d’Emile Zola” is an oil on canvas painting created by Edouard Manet in 1868, exemplifying the Realism art movement. Its dimensions are 146.5 by 114 cm. This portrait genre piece presents an introspective depiction of the French writer Emile Zola. The artwork currently resides in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France, which is also where it was originally created.

The artwork portrays Emile Zola seated at a desk, engaged in reading a publication, which could be a book or a newspaper. He is dressed formally in dark clothing that contrasts sharply with the lighter tones of the pages before him. Zola’s posture is relaxed yet attentive, suggesting a moment of intellectual engagement. Manet’s use of lighting focuses the viewer’s attention on Zola’s face and the papers he holds, while the rest of the scene is shrouded in relative darkness, enhancing the sense of depth in the composition.

In the background, the walls are adorned with various artworks, including Japanese prints, which reflect the cultural influences of Japonisme popular among artists during that period. The inclusion of such details not only contextualizes Zola within his intellectual interests but also connects to the broader artistic trends of the era. Manet’s brushwork is evident in the textures of the surroundings and the sitter, conveying a sense of reality and immediacy.

The combination of a portrait with a still life, seen in the assortment of objects on the desk, is characteristic of Manet’s innovative style, blurring the lines between genres and giving insight into Zola’s personality and pursuits. Overall, “Portrait d’Emile Zola” stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit between writer and artist and is an important representation of Realism in 19th-century French art.

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