First major exhibition exploring artistic dialogue between Manet and Degas to open at The Met

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First major exhibition exploring artistic dialogue between Manet and Degas to open at The Met
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). In a Café (The Absinthe Drinker) , 1875–76. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 × 26 15/16 in. (92 × 68.5 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. © Musée d'Orsay Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt.



NEW YORK, NY.- Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 24, 2023, Manet/Degas examines one of the most significant artistic dialogues in the genesis of modern art. Born only two years apart, Édouard Manet (1832–1883) and Edgar Degas (1834–1917) were friends, rivals, and, at times, antagonists whose work shaped the development of modernist painting in France. By examining the ways in which their careers intersected and presenting their work side by side, this exhibition investigates how their artistic objectives and approaches both overlapped and diverged.

Through 160 paintings and works on paper, Manet/Degas takes a fresh look at the interactions of these two artists in the context of the family relationships, friendships, intellectual circles, and sociopolitical events that influenced their artistic and professional choices, deepening our understanding of a key moment in 19th-century French art history.

“Manet and Degas produced some of the most provocative and admired images in Western art,” said Max Hollein, The Met's Marina Kellen French Director and CEO. “Anchored by the unparalleled holdings of their work in the collections of The Met and the Musée d’Orsay, in addition to incredible loans from more than 50 other institutions and individual collectors, this exhibition offers a riveting new perspective on the storied pair of artists.”

Highlights among the loans to the exhibition include Manet’s groundbreaking Olympia, which will travel to the United States for the first time in the work’s history, as well as Degas’s recently conserved Family Portrait (The Bellelli Family) from the Musée d’Orsay. Four drawings of Manet by Degas—two from the Musée d’Orsay and two from The Met—will be reunited with rare, related etchings. They will be displayed alongside Degas’s Monsieur and Madame Édouard Manet (Municipal Museum of Kitakyushu), a gift to the sitters that Manet later slashed, thus marking an initial point of rupture. Integral pairings of works by the two artists that showcase their treatment of similar subjects from modern life include Degas’s In a Café (The Absinthe Drinker) (Musée d’Orsay) and Manet’s Plum Brandy (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), as well as Manet’s The Races at Longchamp (Art Institute of Chicago) and Degas’s Racehorses before the Stands (Musée d’Orsay). The exhibition features many works formerly in Degas’s collection, including Manet’s The Execution of Maximilian (The National Gallery, London), which was methodically reassembled by Degas after it had been cut into pieces and dispersed following Manet’s death.

Stephan Wolohojian, exhibition co-curator and the John Pope-Hennessy Curator in Charge of the Department of European Paintings, said, “While little written correspondence between Manet and Degas survives, their artistic output speaks volumes about how these major artists defined themselves with and against each other. This expansive dossier exhibition is a unique chance to assess their fascinating relationship through a dialogue between their work.”

Ashley Dunn, exhibition co-curator and Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, added: “Works on paper are integral to their story as the two artists purportedly met in the Louvre, where Degas was working on an etching after a painting attributed to Velázquez, a work that Manet also copied. The exhibition presents an exciting opportunity to evaluate how Manet and Degas worked differently across media.”










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