The music in the Tulleries gardens was created in 1862 by the great, Edouard Manet. First exhibited in 1863, depicting a scene of modern life. A band is playing and a fashionable crowd gather to listen. Simple enough. However, this painting featured a cast of characters from Manet’s inner circle which includes the famous poet Baudelaire, who first called for artists of the generation to depicts modern life.
If we look closely, no band is in fact depicted in the painting. You can see the fashionable crowd gathers, and the only reference to the band will be from us, the viewers, assumptions by looking at the title of the work. The cast of characters are framed in this painting by the vertical trees, placed horizontally across the canvas, with no vanishing point as an anchor for the viewers’ perspective.
Manet applied a more relax composition, which makes this painting modern for his time. If we use William Powell Frith’s The Railway Station, as a point of reference, Frith composed his painting by placing a distinct social class order. Wealthy class characters were painted in details, placed in the middle of the canvas. The lower class characters were painted out of focus, blurred out to symbolize their insignificant existence in society of the time.
In Manet’s body of work, no such class order were imposed on his characters. As a matter of fact, characters in the middle of the canvas, were almost blurred out on purpose, to show that Manet care very little of their social status.
We can now see why The Music in the Tuilleries garden, stirred little uproar when it was first exhibited. However, now, we can appreciate the modernity of Manet’s body of work and perhaps contribute his work to the birth of Impressionist art movement, even perhaps, the modern art.
Where can you see it? National Gallery, London.
Images: Google Art and Culture