With his works Edouard Manet anticipated the appearance of Impressionism, and then became one of the founders of this art movement. Many of Manet’s paintings show impressionistic pictorial freedom and fragmentary compositions. At the same time, his works preserve the clarity of the picture. He uses gray and black tones, prefers domestic plot with severe social and psychological undercurrent to landscapes. His canvases portrayed singers, street people, gypsies, and beggars. Despite this Manet has created some magnificent landscape art. One of them is View of the Universal Exposition of 1867 which is also known to be one of his strangest works.
First of all, the figures in the painting seem to be out of scale; the middle ground is missing, and the building on the background reminds of a cupboard castle. Lots of elements seem artificial. And Manet has done it on purpose.
Wanting to prove that France is a world leader, and Paris – the capital of a new civilization, the Emperor Napoleon III decided to hold the next Universal Exposition. The basic idea of this event was that the wealth of nature must be transformed into a universal harmony of people. The aim was to glorify not only Paris but also as an example of a better life. For this reason, once a depositary of the city’s sanitary sewage was transformed into a main scene of the event – a spectacular park Buttes-Chaumont.
For the world, Paris was presented as a center of perfection and glamor, but it was completely misleading. Manet knew it better than anyone. Using exceptional irony he depicted the problem of image-making in View of the Universal Exposition of 1867.
Edouard Manet is considered to be an urban artist whose eyes were open to every nuance of modern life.