The Railway (1872-73) by Edouard Manet

The Railway - Edouard Manet - 1872-73

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Railway
ArtistEdouard Manet
Dimensions93.3 x 111.5 cm
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About The Railway

“The Railway” is an artwork by Edouard Manet created in 1872-73, measuring 93.3 x 111.5 cm. Currently, this piece is displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It reflects the innovative and modern painting style that Manet was known for during his time.

The artwork features two primary figures: a young woman and a little girl turned away from the viewer, seemingly observing something outside of the frame. The woman is seated and appears at ease, dressed in a dark blue garment with a hat adorned with flowers. She holds a small dog on her lap while also cradling an open book, suggesting a moment of interruption in her reading. The subtle reflection of light on her skin and fabric conveys a sense of depth and texture. The little girl, contrasting with the seated figure, is clothed in a white dress with a striking blue sash. Her pose, looking through the railings, generates curiosity about the unseen subject of their attention.

Manet’s use of color and light in this composition is striking, with accents such as the bold blues and the rich details in the woman’s hat creating focal points. The railings provide a geometric structure dividing the foreground, where the subjects are depicted, from the indistinct yet lively background suggestive of an urban setting, consistent with the industrial undertones of the titular railway theme. The interplay between the subjects and their obscured view evokes discussion on the themes of modernity and the role of women in the public sphere during the period. Manet’s painting skillfully captures the intimacy of a candid moment against the backdrop of a rapidly changing society.

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