- Father, sit here.
Monsieur the ex-chief of staff of the Keeper of Seals complies. Dressed in his frock coat and wearing an interior cap, Auguste Manet settles into a mahogany armchair.
- Mother, come a little closer.
Eugénie Désirée Manet, born Fournier, goddaughter of marshall Bernadotte, stands near her husband.
We are in 1860, Édouard Manet is 28 years old. He gradually freed himself from the teaching of Thomas Couture. He wants freedom, his freedom, he stares at faces, the fleeting, the vibrant, the vivacious. He said to Antonin Proust: "You have to do what you see the first time. When it's there, that's it. When it's not there, we start over. Everything else is a joke".
Édouard stares at his parents. He decided to paint this double portrait. He is feverish, he starts.
On the table, Auguste Manet placed a snuff box. He wears the ribbon of a decoration on the lapel of his jacket. Madame Manet is standing, dressed in a silk bodice, a white lace bonnet with large blue ribbons. One of his mitten-gloved hands plunges into a work basket. The tapestry she is making is placed in front of her. Edouard painstakingly paints this double portrait from which emerges a certain sadness. Monsieur and Madame Manet lower their eyes, they seem preoccupied. Auguste's face, his hollow features behind a beautifully rounded beard, reveals the suffering he endured in this austere interior where he would end his days two years later.
He who had risen up against his son's vocation, refusing him any artistic career, became by the magic of this painting one of his most fervent supporters. The father is admiring, the mother is delighted, as much as one can be, with restraint.
Édouard Manet will paint Désirée again, who has become a widow, in 1863. The bonnet has disappeared, the gaze more direct, the thin lips betray a mixture of weariness and dignity.
After having produced the portrait of Monsieur and Madame Manet, Édouard will tackle the "Guitarrero" and present the two paintings at the Salon which, against all odds, accepts them. It's joy among the Manets! The painting, initially perched at the top of the wall, has been lowered to the height of the picture rails, so that the enthusiastic public can better contemplate it. Antonin Proust writes: "This Guitarrero kills everything around him". The success is there, the compliments are raining down. A great painter was born...
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...