Édouard Manet: Bunch of Asparagus

Bunch of Asparagus: Édouard Manet

Bunch of Asparagus is an 1880 Impressionist still-life painting by French artist Édouard Manet.

The genre of still life was the lowest within the traditional hierarchy of painting but was generally explored to display the skills of the artist for a realistic representation. Yet in Bunch of Asparagus, Édouard Manet’s concern is not with Realism but with the process of painting itself.

The part of the table in the right background should carry over into the left background but does not and this upsets all sense of a rational perspective. The asparagus itself and especially the leaves on which it rests are painted quickly and thickly in the manner of an artistic flourish rather than showing attention to a faithful reproduction.

The painting was executed for the French art critic and collector Charles Ephrusse in 1880 who paid Manet an extra 200 francs, which prompted Manet to paint a ‘sprig’ of asparagus that was ‘missing’ from this painting.

Édouard Manet’s Bunch of Asparagus is in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne in Western Germany.

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