I never liked this painting of Edouard Manet.
Because the women are naked or half naked while the men are fully clothed (with dark and quite heavy clothing, no less). And the foreground man seems to be pontificating. He’s wearing the hat of some students of the time.
As a woman, I felt it to be offensive. And I didn’t like, and still don’t, the display of patronizing way to, once more, assert a supposed superiority of male over female humans. So, pen being mightier than sword, here’s my countermeasure to this ongoing sexism.
It seems to me that the stark contrast shows how shocking it is, because it’s a seldom seen reverse of the “roles”. And it reveals how groomed we have been into thinking it’s ok to see a naked woman sitting between those two clothed men, with her female friend, half naked (or half dressed), knee deep in the pond behind them. Curious.(Original painting below).
This type of fantasist painting also reinforced in the collective consciousness the idea that it’s acceptable for women to be gallivanting in rivers in their undies or have luncheon naked.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it shocked people at the time, just as I was unimpressed when I first saw it. It brought fame to the painter as well as controversy, as Manet knew perfectly well how to use it ( look no further than his “Olympia”).
Art historians deemed this painting his most famous, because Manet brought nature into his painting to a perfect rendition. Ok, maybe. Probably here, fame (because of scandal) morphs into remarkable execution. Yet, I’m not convinced. I’d rather they were ALL naked…
And the fact that the woman breaks the “4th wall”, while unclothed could be read as an invitation for later… intimate games.
It also indicates a rule being broken by Manet.
It’s not a portrait, it’s a group painting. Looking at us, this young lady is showing she’s unashamed of her naked body (a good thing in my book), but in 1863, it could be read differently. And it sure sparked notoriety and controversy. The former because of the latter.
What kind of idea is that, if not another desire to portray women in a less than respectful way?
This is part of the so called “celebration of femininity” and beauty of the female body.
It’s just another lie to objectify women, evacuating their soul and personnality (and their consent maybe too?) of the equation and letting them know that they have nothing to say about it.
It’s also a trickster way to brainwash visitors into thinking that it’s the way things are and must be perpetuated.
This painting maybe a feat in terms of….. impressionist craft…. but it’s rubbish as to what message it aims at delivering and it’s time society stops celebrating art that devaluates this half of humankind.
Curiously, painting naked female body it ok. But painting or drawing naked male body and you’re bound to receive a warning, even be flagged as offensive and rated R. (hence the little club I had to put on the private parts of this gent for viewer sensitivity and to avoid to shock wordpress) .
As long as its not showing signs of … action… why should it be?
Why naked female body is ok and not male naked body? Why AGAIN a difference of treatment?
This society model is sickening.
But it’s changing, thank God(dess).