Édouard Manet was born on January 23, 1832 in Paris, France. His mother was the goddaughter of a Swedish prince, and his father was a French judge. He wanted Édouard to pursue a career in law, but Édouard was more interested in the arts. His uncle encouraged him to pursue painting seriously, he often took young Édouard to the Louvre.
From 1850 to 1856 Manet went to study under painter Thomas Couture. In his spare time he would copy the Old Masters in the Louvre. He spent some time visiting Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, during which he absorbed the influences of the Dutch painter Frans Hals and the Spanish artists Diego Velasquez and Francisco José de Goya.
Manet painted many everyday subjects like beggars, bullfights, cafés, and other events and scenery. One of Manet's most famous paintings at this time is 'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe'. The Salon refused to exhibit this painting in 1863 thus it was exhibited at the Salon des Refusés later in the year. Its juxtaposition of a nude woman and dressed men was controversial, as was its abbreviated sketch-like style. The roughly-painted style and photographic lighting in his works was seen as specifically modern.
Manet believed modern artists should seek to exhibit at the Salon rather than abandon it. He became friends with the Impressionists Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro through his sister-in-law Berthe Morisot. His own work had anticipated the Impressionist style. However, Manet resisted involvement in Impressionist exhibitions. He did not wish to be seen as the representative of a group identity. His disapproval of their opposition to the Salon system was another reason to stay aside. Nevertheless, when Manet was excluded from the International exhibition of 1867, he set up his own exhibition.
He was influenced by the Impressionists, especially by Monet and Morisot. Manet was influenced to use lighter colors but he retained his distinctive use of blocks of black, uncharacteristic of other Impressionists. He painted many paintings outdoors but always returned to 'serious work' in the studio.
In 1881Manet was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government. His last major work,
He died of untreated syphilis in Paris on April 30, 1883 and is buried in the Cimetière de Passy, Paris, France.