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THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET

The French Pioneer Impressionist Painter in the 19th Century:


A Psychoanalytical glance to the Psycho-physical Disturbances, Personality
Characteristic, the Personal Life & the Arts
Monir S. Saleh*

Abstract
Edouard Manet (1832-1883), the pivotal French painter in transition from Realism to Impression-
ism – modern-life subjects – primed a colossal deviation in the world of painting at the turning
point of the 18th century to the 19th century in France. This paper will psychoanalytically ex-
plore Manet’s disturbed life and disarrayed course of development, psycho-physical sufferings
including child-parents conflicts, unresolved Oedipus Complex, depressive and sadomasochistic
mood as a result of being the object of constant rejection and humiliation by parents and the
ruling power that caused a paradoxical and delusional perception of the ‘Self’ inside him. Manet’s
art and life-style are woven with saturated controversies: inclination towards natural beauty and
classical paintings combined with norm breaking and scandalous life-style as a mean for his
rebellious movement to protest social ruling system and advocate modernism. At the early teen
age, Edouard experienced a hidden indecent triangular affair involving his father Auguste, and
the piano teacher, Suzanne Leenhoff. The lack of intimacy among the parents, abandoned life
and vulgarism within the family members with having a lavish family pride provoked a narcis-
sistic personality disarray for Manet, which resulted in a “Freudian Neurotic Family Romance”
that caused an identity crisis and self-denial, which consequently led him towards traumatized
and severe psycho-physical sicknesses all through his life. By creating radical paintings, Manet
was embedding an audacious protest against the hegemony of ruling power and sociopolitical
values at his time in France. This was a sudden atrocity and confusing conversion to the world of
paintings unacceptable to his contemporaries. Manet’s doctrine was to advocate modernism as a
way of self-consciousness and self-reference, which was incongruent to his bizarre life and aris-
tocratic origin. These aberrations affected his personal, social and artistic life towards a physical
and mental suffering that eventually culminated to a tragic termination. The merge of immense
paradoxical dogma, creative mind, controversial vision to social constraint, foresight for the inex-
orable rise of new sociopolitical vision in France, at the same time excruciating from the ethical
principles, cultural and aesthetic orders in Edouard Manet is significantly thought provoking and
questionable.
Keywords: Edouard Manet, Psychoanalysis, Impressionism, Psycho-physical disarray, Personal-
ity characteristics, Psychopathology, Art.

*. PhD; ATR, Psychoanalyst; Clinical / Analytical / Aesthetic Art Psychotherapist; Faculty member,
Department of Education & Psychology; Family Research Center; Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran. Email:
msaleh@sbu.ac.ir; monirsaleh1@gmail.com
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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Introduction values of Realism. He also propagated


Édouard Manet, the French pioneered modernism as a way of encouraging
painter in transition from the Realism to people to gain self-consciousness or self-
Impressionism, was born in an aristocrat reference to have command over their
Parisian family on the 23rd of January personal life and destiny. By his intuitive
1832, and died on the 30th of April 1883. vision for the future of modern France,
Édouard’s creative innovation in painting Manet was united with a group of his
profoundly influenced the artistic percep- intellectual advocates and motivated
tion, in particular painting, as a ground people for socio-cultural changes in
breaking movement in the turn of the 18th France. He conveyed an immense
to the 19th century in France. He drasti- deviation into the world of painting, as
cally had contentious effect on the so- he injected infernal beauty on the other
cio-political perception among the French features of the human’s destination in the
people. centuries ahead, and feasibly devaluation
To have a deeper inference of Manet’s of morality and ethical boundaries to the
characteristic traits, with unbearable mod- future generations. Carl Gustav Jung, the
ern aesthetic perception and artistic vision Swiss psychoanalyst (1875-1961), by
at his time, a thorough psychoanalytical analyzing Picasso’s artworks, remarks
exploration of his developmental stages that: “these kinds of artworks (Cubic
is discussed in this paper. It includes the paintings), … belongs to the neurotic, 57
family background, the childhood nurtur- and he [Picasso], usually encounters the
ing, the growth problems, the intricate life, unconscious in the form of the ‘Dark
the sociopolitical creed, the psycho-physi- One’, a Kundry(1) of horribly grotesque,
cal ailments, and finally the tragic disease. primeval ugliness or else of infernal
Manet’s rebellious movement and protest beauty.” (Jung’s 1932, Article on Picasso,
against the ruling power’s tyranny in 3. Access, 2016). Manet’s improper art,
France, combined with his norm-breaking can be considered too, as the expression of
masterworks, was a demonstrative the dark sides of his unconscious domain,
objection to the sociopolitical and which appeared in the form of infernal art.
church’s ruling dominance over all aspects
of people’s destiny. Such unacceptable Manet’s Life
masterworks consist of The Luncheon on Childhood: From the early childhood
the Grass and The Olympia exposed during along with his two younger brothers,
1863 in Paris. These two paintings caused Édouard experienced a lifelong unhappy
immense shocking disputes among the and unstable life. The parents’ unharmo-
public, artists and the church authorities, nious and distrusted relationship with un-
which traumatically affected Manet social faithful intimacy affected Manet’s mental
reputation and distracted his psycho- and social growth and emotional insecuri-
physical stamina. Manet created a number ties and histrionic disarrayed (Lock, 145).
of Real paintings, which bluntly expressed (Image1)
his rejection to the philosophy and the
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Image1(2) . Portrait of Monsieur and Madam Image 2. Portrait of Edouard’s mother. 1860.
Auguste Manet. Edouard’s Parents. 1860. Oil on Canvas, 1311 cm x 93.3.
111.5 × 91 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The lack of intimacy. Mother in the dark and disparity.
58
Manet was raised in a morbid neurotic life, which embedded a weak and
aristocratic and posh family structure with vulnerable ‘ego’ in him that formed an
melancholic raising cradle and lack of unstable personality and led him towards
paternal intimacy. He became conditioned an incurable psychosomatic sufferings
to an unstructured family space with and devastating diseases. These traumatic
hysterical and spiteful behavior in the confusion and bitter experiences shaped
household and constant transferences a dark personal and social status for him
of cynicism. At the same time, with that shed a gloomy and disconcerting light
bombastic and pretentious social ambition in his characteristics and later on appeared
Edouard fell dramatically short in meeting in his “restless and radical life and paint-
his parents’ expectations for his education ings” (Lock, 145).
and career. (Lock, 145).
Manet’s unusual life merged with his The Mother-Child Relationship
creative yet unacceptable art in the pub- Edouard’s mother in despair and agony
lic’s normative canons must be considered (Image 2) raised her artistic minded little
as part of the bases of extreme frenzy and son in a domineering and unhappy space
paradoxical confusion in his socio-polit- filled with hysterical and extravagant yet
ical and cultural indecency. The chaotic shallow and miserable environment with
turmoil woven with emotional instabil- constant and horrifying sobbing which
ity had a detrimental impact on Manet’s he experienced all through his develop-
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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mental stages. Edouard was exposed to being most often used to allay anxiety in
a confused family interaction with moral the face of aggressive or erotic impulses.
indecency and care free training, mainly (Freud, 49-50).
during his ‘psychosexual stage of devel- Manet experienced “the lack of mother-
opment’. This is the time that the child ly affectionate untainted touch and secure
becomes aware of self-identity and gen- protection, vulgarism and seductive atti-
der difference recognition, which requires tudes from the surrounding males and fe-
a careful attention for a normal transition males, Freudian ‘slip of tongue, and dirty
from this crucial stage for a normal per- practical jokes’, immature and disarrayed
sonality formation, to prevent disarray identification with the father (the male
from either obsessive disposition, guilt figure role), and an unconscious compe-
feeling, and shameful taboos, or an amor- tition and revengeful attitude towards the
phous personality with no strong and de- father” (Kuspit, 2002,10). His unfaithful
cent boundaries. involvement in this kind of life, “resulted
Edouard had strong visual perception in unsolved Oedipal Complex to symbolic
and sharp “mirror imaging memory” possession of mother, which caused him to
(Ramachandran, Neuro psychologist ‘displace’ all kinds of females to respond
2007). That is, he reflected and repeated to his early childhood ‘need’ for mother-
what he perceived and stored during the ly pure love and attention, “the base of 59
childhood in his long term memory. Since Manet’s famous mistakes and composi-
Edouard had constantly been exposed tional eccentricities, which led him to his
to nudity and vulgarism and abundant ‘Oedipal strivings” (Kuspit, 2002, 10).
courting among the family household, Being exposed to extravagant scenery of
and as “Manet mentioned, had emotional nudity in early childhood, may have af-
dynamics which affected his self- fected his artistic visionary and saturated
perception as mother-child early childhood his visual memory with what he experi-
with an unhealthy interaction revealed in enced during the course of his growth.
his paintings of nudity and on the whole After insulting critiques to his paint-
art” (Kuspit,142). Freud considers that ings of nudity, Manet mentioned to his
Manet’s nude Olympiacirca (1863), “is friends that: “I paint what I see, not what
a courting of the incest-barrier [serious others like to see” (1863, cited 2016). It
taboo]… standing in as a ‘substitute- can be inferred that his constant exposure
object’ for Manet’s mother” (Freud, 74). to unclean sceneries, as a chiled, affected
Displacement, a symbolic shift or move, his perceptual senses; and his mind be-
is an unconscious defense mechanism came preoccupied with those scenes for
where the mind substitutes a new aim or the rest of his life. “Evidently, what Manet
object for goals felt in their original form did see were naked women, as shown by
which was dangerous or unacceptable; its two of the most distinctive paintings of
transference of emotions, ideas, or wishes the 19th century”, both scandalous in their
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Image 3.
Suzanne Leenhoff,
The piano teacher,
Madam Edouard
Manet,
1867- 1868,
Oil on canvas.
Musée d’Orsay,
Paris.

time -in the latter case [Luncheon on the luctantly sail on a training vessel to Rio
Grass], because the picnicking men with de Janeiro which was the French empire’s
the clothes-free companions were in mod- colony at the time. After failures in na-
ern dress” (Kuspit, 10). vy’s examination, his father relented to
60 Manet was attracted to his piano teach- his son’s wishes to pursue an art educa-
er Suzanne Leenhoff, when he was a teen- tion. Although he never paved the way
ager but he was aware of father’s sensual for a welcoming and respectful attitude
engagement with her so he tried a hidden towards him and to his artistic talent and
relationship. Edouard prolonged his feel- enthusiasm. Therefore, Edouard remained
ings until his father’s death to marry and ignored and unattended with the father’s
triumphantly possess and displace Mad- grandiosity.
ame as his symbolic mother and implicitly In a letter to his friend, Fliess, Freud
fulfill his revenge of his father. The later wrote that “the real father by a superior
consequences of this reversed displace- one is only an expression of the child’s
ment transferred to the social issues, and longing for the happy vanished days when
finally to him ‘self’ as “the nearest object his father seemed to him the noblest and
at hand to revenge” (Klein, 202). strongest of men and his mother the dear-
est and loveliest of women. He is turning
The Father-Child Interaction away from the father whom he knows to-
Edouard’s childhood relationship with day to the father in whom he believed in
his father is filled with constant humilia- the earlier years of his childhood; and his
tion, ignorance, command and social am- fantasy is no more than the expression of
bitions, and too much expectation from an a regret that those happy days have gone.
artistic minded child beyond his capacity. Thus in these fantasies the over- valuation
In 1848 his father ordered Edouard to re- that characterizes a child’s earliest years
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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comes into its own again. An interesting


contribution to this subject is afforded by
the study of dreams. We learn from their
interpretation that even in later years,
Image 4.
if the Emperor and Empress appear in Manet’s self-
dreams, those exalted personages stand portrait.
for the dreamer’s father and mother. (June 1878- 1879
20, 1898 - 1950a, Letter 91, 240). So that Oil on canvas.
83 cm × 67 cm.
the child’s over - valuation of his parents
Owner: Franck
survives as well in the dreams of normal Giraud Private
adults. (Interpretation of Dreams, 1900 a, collection
Standard Ed., 5, 353). A petrifying gaze
to nothingness.
The frenzied Family, the protagonist
with no boundaries and denied ethical sual fantasies. In 1849, Manet involved
interaction among the immediate family in an indecent and scandalous triangular
and the extended household affected im- love affair among the father- Auguste, and
mensely in perceiving the essence of life the Dutch-born piano teacher, Suzanne
by Edouard. This played a significant role Leenhoff (Image 3), of his own age, with
61
in his confusing and paradoxical growth whom, simultaneously father was cop-
in all aspects of his developmental stages: ulating for approximately ten years. The
mental gain, personality formation, artistic outcome of this muddled hidden sensual
thriving, social life, personal and secretive affair, out of matrimony, was a no-refer-
scandalous life-style, psycho physical dis- ence-son, Leon Koella Leenhoff, with
eases, and eventually his traumatic illness an unidentified father – either Edouard or
which ended to a tragic demise. Auguste Manet. (b. 1852).
The family represents a capriciously After the death of his father Aguste
volatile mechanism for the development Manet in 1862, despite his mother’s sever
of sexuality, repression, conflict, and de- rejection, Edouard and Suzanne Leenhoff
sire, which had an impact on a father-son wed to legitimize their relationship. The
drama rooted in a guarded ‘the family’s mother passed off the boy to Suzanne’s
secret’: the adultery of Manet’, and the family, and to avoid scandal, he was
status of Léon Leenhoff. introduced to society as Suzanne’s younger
brother and Manet’s godson; although,
Manet’s Woven Personal Life and Art their son Leon never have known his true
The confusing experiences of an ap- parentage. Manet’s mother had likely
propriate life-style with no ethical bound- helped the two conspire to keep the secret
aries, mingled with inner conflicts and from Edouard’s father as he would not have
fluctuations between the realities and sen- tolerated the disgrace of an illegitimate
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

fight with father over the mother being ig-


nored and betrayed by the father, the con-
veyance of pity and sorrow for protection
of the victimized women (the symbolic
mother) to compensate the father’s lack
of intimacy and respect also a projection
to the father’s intrusive behavior. Manet
traveled to Italy, apparently for the art, but
to avoid the disgrace and constant stingy
language of the social ambiances. This
would have been the end of Manet’s ar-
tistic career before it even began, regard-
less of unsuccessful efforts that he tried
to establish his artistic reputation with the
mother’s extravagant financial support.
Image: 5. Boy Carrying a Sword, 1861 – Manet, He left Paris with a wounded soul, and a
painting, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. shattered personality, a lost identity, a so-
2670 × 37cm 22. www.metmuseum.org cial disgrace, a ruined artistic career at his
62 child in the family. Later, eleven-year-old contemporary, a thorough physical sick-
Leon Leenhoff, most famously, became ness, a loss of the sense of belonging as a
the subject many of Manet’s models. ‘father’, a ‘son’, a ‘civilian’. As an artist,
Examples: of the ‘Boy Carrying a Sword. although he painted some natural beauty
(1861, Image 5, Leon). He also appears as and a series of flowers, but he never had
the boy carrying a tray in the background the chance to reach his Jungian ‘individ-
of ‘The Balcony’ (Image 6). Leon The uation’- achieving his complete whole as
displacement of feelings and attitudes a human being, that in case of an artist,
from the past ‘significant others’ onto the is creating his masterpiece). Bataille men-
present-day analyst constitutes a central tions that “ Manet divorced both from his
aspect of the transference, particularly in work and from his personality, on the one
the case of the neurotic” (Freud, PFL 2. hand elegant and self-assured, on the other
49-50; Akhtar, 2009, 82). hesitant and impulsive” (cited in Bromb-
This situation usually occurs as the out- ert, xviii 2016).
come of a persistent absurd, incongruent, Manet, the rebellious artist learned
chaotic and domineering ruling behavior from the Realism and Naturalism of his
with simultaneous occurrence of pleasure French contemporaries, and even from
and harsh discipline. In other words, fixa- the17th century Spanish paintings. His
tion of the instinctual desires through gain interest in the classical Masters and con-
and punishment. Also it can be considered temporary Realism gave him the crucial
as an unaware revenge and unconscious foundation for his revolutionary approach.
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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Image: 6B.
Boy Carrying
a Tray (1860-
61). The dull
looking Leon
in a dark
gray and blue
colors .

Beside his extravagant life, Edouard Image: 6 A. The Balcony,


170 cm × 124 cm.1868, Paris Musée d’Orsay / Ash-
showed interest in a ‘bohemian life
molean Museum. ox.ac.uk/media/news stories. Three
style’– the practice of an unconventional, bright figures in front, a figure in the dark and partially
unorthodox or anti-establishment politi- obscured in the interior’s background, the Leon carry- 63
cal or social viewpoints, often expressed ing a tray of fruit and drink to entertain the Edouard’s
through free art, free music, free love, fru- celebrities’guests.

gality, and in some cases voluntary pov- is thoroughly questionable!


erty. However, a misperception and par- With a bizarre misperception of bo-
adoxical attitude towards the bohemian hemian doctrine, Manet with his avant-
way of life is observed in Manet’s person- garde Realism, along with Monet and
al and social conduct. This casts a doubt Renoir, eventually emerged as leaders
as whether he really was a rebellious of what would be called Impressionism.
bohemian? His pretentious living style Manet was impressed by Spanish culture,
witnesses differently! Since, beside his and was affected by Diego Velázquez,
extravagant excessive and carefree life, 1599- 1660, and Francisco Goya 1746-
wherever was desired or fancy, Manet was 1828. The meetings of what Emil Zola
leading and practicing bohemian life, such – naturalist writer, 1840-1902 – termed
as: ‘free love’, breaking the conventional “the Batignolles Group” were a mixture
laws, and expressing abandoned life with of personalities, attitudes, and classes; all
no social and ethical respect and confine- joined together as independent-minded,
ment; “what is referred to as ‘aristocratic avant-garde artists to forge the principles
bohe mian circle’ - haute bohème or “high of their new artistic styles. It was motivat-
bohemians”, (Turque, Washington Post, ed to scandalize the French Salon de Paris,
2013). The practice that in case of Manet, (the official art exhibition of the Académie
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

des Beaux-Arts, 1667) publicly with his- visually compelling and uniquely recalci-
disregard to academic conventions and his trant. (Locke, 145). Shameless and realis-
strikingly modern images of urban life. tically rendered nudity of a woman - like-
Being friends with poet Charles ly a prostitute - staring at them from the
Baudelaire and artist Gustave Courbet, canvas. Critiques included comments that
Manet moved amongst other progressive the painting was “vulgar,” “immodest,”
thinkers who believed that art should rep- and “inartistic,” comments that deeply
resent modern life, not history or mythol- distressed Manet and likely caused him a
ogy. This was a tumultuous artistic shift serious bout with depression (Lock, 145).
that pitted the status quo of the Salon with Fantin-Latour, a Studio at Batignolles
avant-garde artists who suffered mightily (1870), which depicts a gathering of Mon-
at the hands of the conservative public and et, Zola, Bazille, and Renoir, among oth-
vicious critics. Manet and others protested ers, all admiring Manet as he paints in his
and the Emperor relented by putting all of own studio, demonstrates Manet’s signifi-
the rejected works into the secondary Sa- cance to the modern art world.
lon des Refuses, so the public could see Manet joined the National Guard. The
what had been deemed unworthy (the Art political events of the next few years
Foundation, 3). Manet obstinately insisted forced Manet to stay out of Paris, return-
64 to create adamant paintings opposing to ing only briefly during the Versailles re-
the academic doctrine, intending to assert pression. He was later forced to leave his
his own subjectivity and the importance destroyed studio and set up in the rue de
of the vsion of the painter, compared to Saint-Petersburg in 1872.
the coventional rules The Luncheon on Away from Paris to aid his declining
the Grass and Olympia – though, caused health he received two awards, at the Sa-
great social concerns and controversies, lon of 1880 Manet was awarded a 2nd
but served as rallying points to create place medal, and was awarded the Legion
Impressionism, the confusing conversion of Honor in 1881. The laneur, Manet re-
and devaluation of the criteria and ref- corded the modern changes in the streets
erences in the social standards in France of Paris and the lives of its inhabitants.
during that period (The Art Foundation,3). The cafe concerts were a great symbol
The presence of family members and in- of these changes. Set in his favorite cafe
timates in paintings, constantly shaped concert, he created one of his most lauded
Manet’s compositional assortment and works, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1881-
choice of replica and a family that symbol- 82). This work, along with spring (1881),
izes a persuasive, volatile and capricious was well received at the 1882 Salon. The
mechanism for the provocative arousal of Salon of 1866 refused his pieces The Fifer
sexuality and seduction and of repression, (1866) and The Tragic Actor (1866). But
conflict and desire. Critics had long been in support of this avant-garde move, Zola
recognized Manet’s paintings for being wrote an essay about Manet in L’Evene-
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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ment, for which he was fired. (Art Histo- ally-charged feelings and experiences
ry, cited 2016). shown in the ‘Execution of Maximilian
By exclusion of Manet’s works from Series’ (1867–1869), the most ambitious,
the Paris exposition Universelle, by con- yet enigmatic paintings of Manet (Image
stant family and social groups refusal, in- 7: A,B,C,D).
sult, and humiliation, Manet went through This work was considered too polit-
depressive mood and “the same year ill ically controversial, and its display was
health began to affect his daily life and forbidden. It was a rebellious act against
denial of his works” (Lock, 39). He set up the ruling domain of the church, and
a tent near Courbet’s to exhibit his work against the Victorian culture, which had
outside the Exposition, where he again shade all over the Europe before 1850.
was criticized soundly. Manet mentioned Manet’s movement explicitly rejected the
that: “They are raining insults upon me, philosophy and values of realism and ac-
I’ve never been led such a dance (Edouard cepted modernism as a way of self-con-
Manet writing to Baudelaire about the sciousness or self-reference. A dynamic
Olympia, 1865). In 1876 the Salon reject- movement for political and social change;
ed again several of his works and exclud- bold examination of the forbidden sub-
ed from the International exhibition of jects through art as a means of protesting
1867”. Because of his antisocial and re- the socio-political rules governing France, 65
bellious thoughts and activities, the moth- and propagating a more generalized no-
er constantly worried that he would waste tion of modernism. The conspicuous ab-
all his inheritance on this extravagant de- sence of the actual spectator’s position in
sire, which was enormously expensive” the painting, highly unusual in the context
(Lock,39- 44). of Manet’s work that overtly registers
Manet joined the repeat section Na- emotion can be considered as the denial
tional Guard, but the political events and degrading the emptiness and rootless
forced Manet to stay out of Paris, He left imperialism doctrine to protest the coloni-
his destroyed studio and set up in the rue al invasion, by painting the empty scene
de Saint-Petersburg in 1872. As a staunch of a great event, the execution of a great
republican, Manet was unhappy with Na- enemy as the “Other”. The 4 depicting of
poleon III’s government. (Art and Analy- the execution by firing squad of Emperor
sis, cited 2016). Maximilian I, and the short-lived Second
Mexican Empire are painted. The Blind
Execution of Maximilian Series Gaze paintings suggests a crisis in rep-
In a denial of monarchy, under the resentation in which the master narratives
heavily influenced by Goya’s “The Third of history are undermined by a modernity
of May 1808’ painting, Manet’ ulti- marked by theatricality, a heroism that is
mate opposition to the ruling system ex- nothing more than artifice and masquer-
pressed through his extremely emotion- ade. In these series Manet rediscovered
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Image 7 A. The Execution of Emperor Maximilian Image 7 B. The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
(1867), oil on canvas, 48 x 58 cm. (1867-68), oil on canvas, 48 x 58 cm.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhagen. National Gallery, London.

the hidden truth, Benjamin, following where he now only glorifies the father but,
Brecht, suggests “a theatrical distance and with his new- found sexual knowledge,
detachment” (Ibsen, K, 213). ponders sexual scenarios where he thinks
“his mother is the subject of the most
Manet and the Freudian ‘Neurotic intense sexua curiosity” into situations of
Family Romance. secret infidelity and into secret love af-
66
In a short paper entitled ‘the Neu- fairs. It is not hard to see the “Family Ro-
rotic Family Romances’ (1909), Freud mance” is a vivid explanation of Freud’s
explained the common phenomenon of theory of the Oedipus Complex. This is a
which “children first become independent neurotic condition that the individual em-
of their parent’s authority. This growth pe- phasizes the nobility of his heritage and
riod is one of the most necessary though creates elaborate heroic fantasies much
one of the most painful results brought like fanciful romantic tales (Cummins, 3).
about by the course of a child’s develop- Manet, with artistic characteristics is
ment.”(Freud, 1. Cited 2016). a sample that is affected by mother- child
The first two years of life, parents as melancholic relationship and bombastic
the idyllic supremacy and the only au- feeling about his family pride which is a
thority and the source of all beliefs. But good example of neurotic family romance.
later in childhood, the child who feels Artists are neurotics that are particular-
ignored and disregarded and is punished ly susceptible to this condition because
or rejected by parents, the ‘need’ for self their creative imaginations are transition-
protection and esteem, since incapable al vehicles towards weaving the neurotic
to react directly, unconsciously revenges thoughts and feelings to an elaborate art
through imaginary means, including the product. The creativity of these artists
arts”. When the child learns the facts of ensures numerous embellishments on
childbirth, he enters a second sexual stage the’family romance’ onto the daydream-
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
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Image 7 C. The Execution of Emperor Maximilian Image 7D. The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
(1868–69), oil on canvas, 252 x 305 cm. Kunsthalle (1867), oil on canvas, 195.9 x 259.7 cm. Museum of
Mannheim. Fine Arts, Boston.

er in order to bring back significance. tion started, new visual technologies and
Freud’s cynical and disparaging view of the advances in mass production changed
childhood assures the reader that the child the way in which art was perceived. With
is only trying, desperately, to return to the work of art multiplied and fragmented
happier times when the parent’s status was into many meanings, they sought to create
omnipotent. (Cummins, 3) new ways of seeing that would provoke a 67
The concept of ‘family romance’ be- transformation of both spectator and art-
comes particularly noteworthy when it is ist. (Ibsen, 2006)
applied more broadly to the larger social Some commentators define Modern-
movements of history. Like the child who ism as a mode of thinking, one or more
rebels against his parents, it is interesting philosophically denied characteristics,
to see how, similarly, the new generations like self-consciousness or self-reference,
always rebel against the ideals inherited that run across all the novelties in the arts
from their predecessors. The whole pro- and the disciplines. Especially in the West
gress of society rests upon the opposition is a socially progressive trend of thought
between successive generations.” Disci- that affirms the power of human beings
plines Since the mythological epics of ar- to create, improve and reshape their envi-
chetypal and etheric entities were revealed ronment with the aid of practical experi-
to human; and as long as the universal mentation, scientific knowledge, or tech-
memory permits to dig back, emotion, nology. From this perspective, modernism
sensation, and beauty merged together to encouraged the re-examination of every
reveal truth and facts in a form of art ex- aspect of existence, from commerce to
pression or the other. So when the impres- philosophy, with the goal of finding what
sionist movement by the great precursor was ‘holding back’ the progress, and re-
of the impressionists Eugene Delacroix placing it with new ways of reaching the
for artists of Édouard Manet’s genera- same end. Others focus on modernism as
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

the neurotic’s estrangement from his par-


ents, begun in this manner, might be de-
scribed as ‘the neurotic’s family romance’.
It is seldom remembered consciously but
can almost always be revealed by psycho-
analysis” (Freud, 1910, 40-50).
For a quite peculiarly marked, im-
aginative activity is one of the essential
Image 8. Family Romance. characteristics of neurotics and also of all
76.8 x 123.2 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, comparatively highly gifted people, this
New York. activity emerges first in children’s play,
aesthetic introspection. This facilitates and then, starting roughly from the peri-
consideration of specific reactions to the od before puberty, takes over the topic of
use of technology in the First World War, course of the development within the fam-
and anti-technological and nihilistic as- ily and their bizarre relationships.
pects of the works of diverse thinkers and Kuspit believes that for Manet “A char-
artists spanning the period from Friedrich acteristic example of this peculiar imagi-
Nietzsche (1844–1900) to Samuel Beckett native activity is to be seen in the familiar
68
(1906 – 1989; Oser,2007). (Image 8, Fam- day-dreaming, which persists far beyond
ily Romance). puberty. If these daydreams are carefully
Discussion The juxtaposition of the examined, they are found to serve as the
pioneer Impressionist painter, Manet’s fulfillment of wishes and as a correction
creative art along with the socio-politi- of actual life. Manet’s eroticism and an
cal-cultural doctrine, and his lavish prac- ambitious that usually concealed behind
ticing life style are incomprehensibly in- the latter one, then, the child’s imagina-
corporated and radically inharmonious. tion becomes engaged in the task of get-
It may be considered as a severe damage ting free from the parents of whom he now
during the course of his personality for- has a low opinion and of replacing them
mation and rearing status that caused the by others, who, as a rule, are of higher so-
manifold traits, habits and environmental cial standing.” (2010)
impacts. Manet’s neurotic condition is Manet’s misconception of “money” as
recognizably determined by having failed the symbolic object of fatherly power and
to integrate the building blocks of his per- grace, and motherly caring love and pro-
sonality and orchestrates all dimensions tection, led him to extravagant expendi-
of his life simultaneously. This is because: tures as a secure defense mechanism for
“For a small child his parents are at first his abandoned and reckless daily life with
the only authority and the source of all be- no insightful perspective for the future
liefs. The later stage in the development of consequences. Fanciful life added to his
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

his sickbed continued to paint portraits of


women, still-life, landscapes, and flowers
(Image 9, Lilac Flowers in the Vase).

Psychopathological Disorders
For Manet, the mental damage was
already done: shattered personality, fad-
ed self-acceptance, identity crisis, par-
adoxical thoughts and feelings with no
structured definition of life. Because of
constant exposure and unrestrained indul-
gence to sensual pleasures combined with
the experience of severe inferiority and
weak ego, made Manet to impersonate his
Image 9. Lilac in a gloss, 1882, still life, Oil on weaknesses under the ornate intellectual
canvas. National gallery, Berlin, Germany. A modernism and a narcissistic exploitation.
series of flower paintings in bed, close to Confusing fluctuation between the high
termination.
social status and shameful inferiority may
fantasizing artistic mind. lead one to a narcissistic syndrome as a 69
To respond to his “need” of unconscious glamorous and socially prominent persona
gain of fatherly and authoritative figures’ to cover the existing yet hidden inferiority
approval, Manet displaced himself as and lack of self-acceptance. (Saleh, 2009,
the father to possess Leenhoff, and other 145). The vivid examples in Manet’s ex-
courtesans as his symbolic mother to re- travagant paintings are The Luncheon on
venge the father’s betrayal and compen- the Grass, and Olympia. These paintings
sate the victimized mother. Because of the reveal the way on how the artist mytholo-
untamed mentality, he never experienced gized and glorified the family members as
a reined framed and steady life to main- the subject matter for his art. These types
tain his peace of mind. of art works convey an insecure symbiotic
attachment within family members, which
Manet’s Physical Illnesses do not pave the road to independency and
Manet was suffering from catastroph- gain of ‘self-awareness’ and cognition to
ic physical health. The untreated syphilis maintain a personal boundary as a protec-
and rheumatism from his forties, instigat- tive barrier for his inner and the outside
ed considerable pain and partial paralysis world.
from ‘locomotors ataxia’ ensued in his left These kinds of arts, can be considered
foot to be amputated because of gangrene. as a projection of unfulfilled ‘needs’ for
The last months of his life, Manet was emotional support and unmet trustable
unable to visit his studio, but even from protection from the family and constant
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

devaluation of the ‘self’ from the family. thinkers and critics, the church authori-
Mythologizing the family or the Freud- ties, and the whole society. However, the
ian FamilyRomance frequently structured most contrasting, contentious, and unre-
Manet’s compositional choice of models. strained lavish life-style as a philanderer
The family’s sensual ethics based on vul- defiance combined with illusive narcissis-
garism as a customary volatile contrivance tic and family pride, caused the loss of ba-
for shameless and abandoned develop- sic building blocks of ethical codes. These
ment of sexuality with no framed control characteristics are expressed in every cor-
added to his neurotic romance. ner of his symbolic, explicit, radical and
Neurotic narcissism may be the con- appalling paintings. The paintings that
sequence of repression, conflict and sup- had no consideration of the ethical prin-
pressed or disarrayed desires that some- ciples of his contemporaries’ values, cast
how during the later stages of the growth doubt to the sanity of the painter and se-
will be projected. Especially in cases of verely dubious and questionable remarks
artists like Manet with stronger visual to be deliberated.
imagery and perceptive memory who are The effect of personal entities, fami-
constantly dealing with vocal and objects ly’s structure, unsteady vein, fluctuation
of sensuality at household and surround- between the feverish social concern for
70 ing, neurotic narcissism appears more freedom and justice, caused disrespect to
seriously. In Manet’s aristocratic back- his ‘self’ by uncontrollable insane expe-
ground, sensuality was considered as a riences. The artistic ability, as a magical
way of class value. The more nudity and tool at hand, merged with aristocratic and
seducing from women and the more phi- insane mentality, grimy wealth, untamed
landering from men would have been val- social power produced infernal and gro-
ued as pride and elegance within the fam- tesque beauty by his capable hands in art.
ily frame. These were enough annihilating posses-
On the other hand, Manet’s rebellious, sions with the lack of meaningful internal
intellectual and anti-social thoughts and and external inhibitors, and other known
activities against the ruling power along and unknown factors that directed Manet
with protesting the social injustice in towards a weak ego and distorted insight
France, and his foresight for the inexo- to be able to protect his ‘self ‘ , and sens-
rable rise of new socio-political- cultural es the respect of body-mind, for not being
and aesthetic order at his time, appeared drawn in the Depth of nihility.
in a number of his works, such as: the Perhaps the dark shade of Europe’s
series of ‘Execution of Maximilian’, and Victorian era with destructive dominance
his connection with intellectuals Europe’s of church on human destiny, can be count-
18th century to this extreme of radical ed too, as an inhibitor for Manet to enjoy
and sharp divergent from the social stand- the dignified the artistic seclusion. Such
ards was not distinct and tolerable to art inhibitors prohibited Manet to sublime in-
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

side for absorbing the essence and mean- revenge from ‘unworthy self’ and ‘the so-
ing of aesthetic beauty and truth which ciety, ‘the whole body of no value’!
could convey his protest for social injus- “Modernity is brilliant by nature, but
tice as a sharp and revered language. beside its advantages, the harmful impact
Manet’s demanding character to re- of modernism has engendered a devas-
spond to his fixated instinctual needs, tating split in the integrated self of con-
drastically devastated his physical health, temporary man. By separating from the
which can be possible causes for expressed original self and complete engagement
in his radical movement in impressionist with the outside world, the unconscious
paintings. Such paintings were used as an identity of new humans is brutally devas-
opposing tool to classical sentimentalism tated. They no longer have vision to see
and a revengeful heralding to the corrupt- that their whole being is not annihilated,
ed ruling power. Ironically, what Manet nor their conscious life is harmonized
was criticizing the ruling power for, was with their true nature. (Saleh, 1995, 1).
somehow his own way of life. Manet with According to Freud (1910), an artist has
“double persona” was covering his true an easy access to his “primary sources of
self behind the impressive persona of his thinking (instinctual entities) and second-
Impressionist paintings. In other word, he ary sources of thinking, (logical entities).
unconsciously did not accept the way he For Manet, his environment has affected 71
lived. The inner paradoxical conflicts of his creative thought and had an immeasur-
values caused severe traumas and even- able impact on the art globally. The ‘need’
tually reflected through a traumatic sado- for actualization and sublime and instinc-
masochistic disorder. He was in a denial tual desire for respect, ultimately dictated
defense of the situation, an implicit re- his private life.
venge from unworthy and incapable ‘self’, However, “Manet’s modernity lies,
and from the society, the whole body of no above all, in his eagerness to update old-
value, throughout his life! er genres of painting by injecting new
Manet’s movement had two folded par- content or by altering the conventional
adoxical revelation: revealing the polluted elements. He did so with an acute sensi-
real image of the corrupted ruling power tivity to historical tradition and contem-
in 18th century France for mindfulness porary reality. This was also undoubtedly
and awareness of people; and also, to the root cause of many of the scandals he
the contrary, abandoning the modernity’s provoked” (The Art Story, 2016).Through
moral ties by shaking the structure of aes- Picasso’s artworks, in particular his Cubic
thetics’ respect, the definition of instinc- paintings, Jung foresaw the annihilation of
tual values, the archetypal grace of the modern man by separating from his true
essence of beauty to revere unconsciously self and inapt mother-child rearing. Jung
and his sadomasochistic attitudes, was a by analyzing Picasso’s artworks manifest-
denial defense of the situation – a hidden ed that detachment from maternal entities,
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

original self and universal collectivity are


significant indications of self - disintegra-
tion leading to psychic imbalance. This
separation has initiated obstructions for
the bright side of his nature, and has pro-
vided circumstances for powerful ruling
of shadows upon his complete whole.”
(Saleh, 1995, 2).
Manet undertook a lifetime struggle
to conquer “shadows, the thing a person
has no wish to be” (Jung, 470), and re-
Image 10. Suicide. The departure from Realism
unify his fractured personality to achieve
to Impressionism 38 cm × 46 cm. Oil on
his individuation. (Image 4). However, he Canvas.1877–1881
seemingly paid a heavy price by long life Foundation E.G. Bührle, Zurich, Switzerland.
harmful struggle for excessive desires, ex- him painful end of life in the years prior
perienced depressive and unsteady mood, to his tragic departing at the age of fif-
self - destruction through a self-denial ty-one. (Oxford, 2013, 85). Meanwhile,
and involvement with unhealthy affaires, in his will, he left his estate to Suzanne
72
which resulted in syphilis with no sense of and obliged her to leave everything to
respect to his dignity, and the holiness of Leon upon her death, which for all prac-
his body. This caused psychosomatic dis- tical purposes confirms Leon as Édouard
eases: a shattered personality; elimination Manet’s son and heir. (The Art Story, cited
of body by amputation of his leg (symbol- 2016).
ically the pillar, representing the man’s Legacy After his death, Manet’s wife
power and dignity), nervous breakdown and friends worked to secure his memory
and incapability to resume his wholeness and legacy, through extraordinary sales of
and to achieve his individuation. Finally his paintings, acquisitions by the French
by a thorough self - grievance, as a sym- government, and by publishing several
bolic suicide, Edouard Manet drained to biographies, Though Manet’s astonishing
the abyss of the dark annihilation and con- creative mind was considered by many art
ceded to a traumatic ending. (Image 10, historians as the father of Impressionist
Suicide). movement in the world of painting through
strong visionary and gentle imagination;
an immeasurable source of inspiration
The Tragic Departure of Edouard
for the later modern art. Manet’s creative
Manet
mind and tainted life paved the way and
Succumbing to a nervous disorder-
detrimentally faded the moral boundaries.
most likely from tertiary syphilis – caused Worth mentioning that lack of thor-
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF EDOUARD MANET
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ough inference of who Sigmund Freud ed his private life. (The Art Story, cited
is, and what valuable scholarly thoughts 2016).
and ideas has left for future scientists to A question from Edouard Manet, the art-
investigate on the human mind - body’s ist; Auguste, Manet, the judge, Suzanne
(including sexual issues) interconnec- Leenhoof, the mother! And as a wakeup
tivity and the roots and causes of behav- call to the consciences of all humans.
iors’ disarrays. But people’s ignorance Is the catastrophic TRAGEDY OF LE-
or ill-preoccupation has allowed them to ONS of ‘all times’ and ‘all spaces’ thor-
have a naive misconception and misin- oughly heard, seen, or perceived by hu-
terpretation of all the incredible scholar- mans?
ly effort of Freud to study human. Freud, The lost child in the blurred abstraction of
the thinker, the father of psychoanalysis, the family romance?
the neuroscientist and surgeon, the laure- Is the “TRAGEDY OF LEON”
ate,... and a sage with piety in his own per- profoundly heard, seen, or perceived?
sonal life, by superficial beliefs, became The ‘lost identity’ of a child in the blurred
the center of accusation for spreading the abstraction of the family romance, ever
insanity and sexual disarrays in Europe painted? A symbolic representation of
and all over the world from the 19th cen- victim children -THE LEONS OF ALL
tury. whereas, what Freud theorized was TIMES AND ALL PLACES! Any sign or 73
a revelation of immense detrimental sex- address of a shattered SELF identity of a
ual problems and abnormality using an child with no dignified frame of reference
available experimental laboratory at hand who is fluctuating to the chasm of noth-
(the European society) to show the facts ingness? (Image 11).
of what was going on in the Europe at that
era, and conceptualized what had detri-
mental impact on human health issues. the
Impressionist movement by breaking the
moral norms and having no boundaries,
had already begun in the Europe a centu-
ry before of Freud! What Freud theorized,
seemingly was an intelligible and scientif-
ic revelation of the behind the curtains of
Victorian era in Europe.
However, despite his relatively short
career, Manet’s artworks are held in the
most major international museums and
Image 11, Luncheon in the Studio 1868. Oil on canvas;
galleries. The greatness and scandal char-
118 × 154 cm. Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
acterized his professional life and his de-
sire for respectability ultimately dictat-
Quarterly Fourth Year, No. 17 Winter 2016 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Endnote Beyond pleasure. Pennsylvania: Pennsylva-


1. Images are subject to copyright. nia State University Press. 34.
2. Kundray: A mysterious creature. The Ibsen, Kristine. (2006). Spectacle and
High Messenger in the domain of the Grail. spectator in É� douard Manet’s Execution of
It appears as a wild woman an unkempt, Maximilian. Oxford Art J, 29 (2): 213-226.
shabby, and repulsive; (great desire; the doi: https://webhp?ibsen+Kristine+spec-
terminal point of a journey). tacle+and+spectator.
Jung, Carl, G. (1999). Jungian individu-
ation. Encyclopedia of creativity. Volume
2.(Ed. Ranco. Mark. A.).California, Bars and
Nobels.
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