The Lemon is one of Edouard Manet’s last still life paintings before his death in 1883. Manet was a French painter and one of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects. He was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, and was born into an upper-class household with strong political connections. He rejected these obligations, even though he held conservative beliefs himself.
The painting The Lemon (1880) exemplifies this rebellion against traditional subject matters, as Manet has created a masterpiece of vibrant color and texture. On view today is the oil on canvas version of The Lemon, which captures the lonely beauty of nature that comes before decay – such as the subtly wilted lemon hanging from its stem. The painting also showcases Manet’s incredible gift for capturing texture and light with paint – the vibrancy of delicate petals and frayed leaves contrasted with worn wooden chalice captivates viewers in the moment.
Viewers who are familiar with Manet’s work will notice similar elements that suggest his timeless style – such as his use of deep tones combined with bright colors and rough brushstrokes emanating from the darker backgrounds. All together, The Lemon reveals to us that beauty can be found in objects we often take for granted, if only we take time to appreciate them as did Manet in this remarkable still life painting.
Similarly to The Lemon (1880), Edouard Manet’s masterpiece, The Fifer (1866) redefines still life by adding emotion and drama to everyday subjects such as a soldier playing a flute. Through its lively colors, dynamic brushwork techniques and narrative packaging, it reflects an era when art was moving away from traditional ways towards revolutionary methods that would shape modern artistry forevermore.