Paris in July, at the last moment: Manet and Modern Beauty at The Art Institute of Chicago

On this, the last day of July, my mother, niece and I went to Chicago to see the Manet exhibit at the Art Institute. It was a truly spectacular day to be in the city as you can see from these pictures of Millennium Park:


But, the Manet exhibit was really special. Combined with the gorgeous paintings were artifacts from the fashion of his time, such as these:


And there were drawings and handwriting on notes and envelopes which charmed me:


This is a picture of his watercolor set, a tin box with two brushes and dried watercolor pans:


And here are some of my favorite paintings:


(The audio said that this picture above depicts “the loneliness of urban modernity”.)




The plaque by this last painting struck me as being quite lovely. It says this:

Mandarins appear frequently in Manet’s final works. According to Antonin Proust, the collector who bought the picture sent Manet a crate of mandarins from Marseille as a kind of gentlemanly exchange. Manet reportedly told Proust, “When I go out, I take lots of mandarins. I fill my pockets with them and give them to the local children who come begging. They’d probably prefer money, but I prefer to give them a share in something I enjoy. The pleasure of this world! Well they’re made of things that mean little to some people but a lot to others.”

In the nick of time, I have an entry for Tamara’s Paris in July event . There were no books for me, after all, but the art of Edouard Manet, combined with this gorgeous day in Chicago, were more than enough celebration for me.



22 thoughts on “Paris in July, at the last moment: Manet and Modern Beauty at The Art Institute of Chicago”

    1. Good thinking, or good luck, whichever you prefer. 😉 It was just good timing, really, that we saw this in time for Tamara’s event. I usually participate much more fully than I was able to this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful post! The notebook with handwritten notes and small sketches and painting is my fave. The Paris in July event is something I look forward to every summer. Always happy to participate. 🙂


    1. Arti, the handwritten things are by far my favorite as well. I think of the Traveler’s Notebooks I (and others on Instagram) have decorated, and they all look so lame compared to Manet’s watercolor washes, ink sketches and gorgeous writing. It is so lovely to see these hand done things, when it seems technology is taking over the written word. (Somehow, the paintbox looks like a painting itself, instead of the photograph it is.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve posted about some Impressionist paintings too plus 3 films that I think you’ll like. When u have a chance, check them out. 🙂


  3. Wonderful post and I wish I could have seen that exhibition.
    I loved Chicago when we visited and I think that the Art Institute is probably the best collection of impressionist paintings after the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
    And there, at the moment, is a Berthe Morisot exhibition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Art Institute of Chicago is quite impressive, a musuem which ranks with the best in the world. I hope you saw the Marc Chagall window when you were there. I liked the Musée d’Orsay, but I will always like the Jeu de Paume, now gone, the best.😢


  4. Beautiful post, Meredith. It looks like a terrific exhibition, so many insights into life in 19th century France. I think I like ‘Plum Brandy’ the best – there’s something very wistful about it, almost melancholy in a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so interesting that you say that, Jacqi, because she is my favorite of all the women as well. Especially significant is the sentiment that the audio gave us while viewing the painting, that Manet was picturing the “loneliness of urban modernity.” That is quite applicable to today, too, I think. We can almost feel her isolation.


    1. Thanks, Sandra, it was such a special day to be with my mother and niece, to be in the exciting city of Chicago, and not only to see Manet but to have the sunshine in 70 degree weather! Quite unusual for Chicago in July. 🙂


  5. M, what a lovely post. Sounds like such a wonderful time at the museum with family 🙂 Thanks for sharing your favorite paintings – I love the one with the woman reading and the one of the mandarins. That’s great you got a post for Paris in July. I didn’t get a chance to participate like I had planned. I still plan on reading the new Laurain though – his writing is can’t miss. Take care, dear friend. x


    1. Sometimes, I have confused Manet with Monet, but this exhibit helped explain the differences. It was perfect timing for Paris in July, an event in which I didn’t participate like I had planned, either. Looking forward to your thoughts on Laurain; he’s an author I have never read. Xo


  6. Thank you for sharing this, and always good to have my hero of blogging events join in with Paris in July! The art works and the history of Manet would’ve been amazing to see in real life. How lucky!


    1. That is so sweet of you to say, your hero of blogging events! Likewise, my dear, as we recall the “good old days” of blogging which were smaller and cozier, somehow. It was serendipitous that the exhibit of Manet happened to fall into the timeframe of your lovely event. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to read more for it. Xo


  7. What a lovely outing on such a gorgeous day! Thank you for sharing so many wonderful photos of the paintings, as well as the notebook and envelope (my favorites). The painting of the roses and lilacs is beautiful and looks a bit like a painting a girlfriend painted for me before I moved away from Nebraska to Texas. Also, I think I was at the Met (in NY) when I first saw A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and spent quite a while with my daughter (who was then 10) talking about the painting and wondering if it truly was a mirror behind the barmaid. I love your posts, my friend!


  8. Such a beautiful post. I know that I used “Plum Brandy” in a post of my own somewhere along the line; it’s one of my favorite paintings, as well. I first came to it when I still was in high school, and for years, not knowing the title, I assumed that it was a dish of ice cream on the table. Now I know it’s a brandied plum — and that the painting also has been known as “The Plum.” So interesting.


  9. Oh my goodness, I’d love to see this exhibit. And perhaps I can, because Chicago isn’t that far away. Thank you for writing about it, and your pictures are gorgeous


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