Jeanniot's Visit to Manet's Studio, January 1882
Painter Georges Jeanniot visited Manet in January 1882. Twenty-five years later he recalled the visit:
"When I returned to Paris in January 1882, my first visit was to Manet. He was then painiting 'Le Bar aux Folies Bergère', and the model, a pretty girl, was posed behind a table loaded with bottles and victuals. Manet recognized me immediately, and shaking my hand said, 'It's annoying. Excuse me, but I'm obliged to remain seated. Sit over there." I took a chair behind him and watched him at work. Although Manet worked from a model, he by no means copied nature entirely. I remember his sweeping simplifications, he modelled the head of the woman, but his modelling was not achieved by the means that nature offered. Everything was simplified; the tones were made lighter, the colours brighter, the contrasts of values was made closer.
Someone came into the room. I recognized
my childhood friend Dr Albert Robin. We spoke of Chaplin
[a fellow painter] 'He's got a lot of talent, you know',
said Manet as, with small strokes, he painted the gold
paper of a champagne bottle. 'A lot of talent,' he repeated.
'He understands a woman's smile, and that's something
very rare. Oh yes, I know that some people claim that
his painting is too smooth and slick. They're wrong,
and what's more it's very good as far as colour is concerned.'
Some other people arrived, and Manet
stopped painting to sit on the divan which was against
the right-hand wall. It was then that I noticed how
much his illness had affected him. He walked leaning
on his stick, and seemed to tremble. But, for all that,
he remained cheerful and talked about his impending
cure. I called on him again during my stay. He used
to tell me things like: 'Conciseness in art is essential
and a refinement. The concise man makes one think; the
verbose bores. Always work towards conciseness... In
a face, look for the main light and the main shadow;
the rest will come naturally - it's often not important.
And then you must cultivate your memory, because Nature
will only provide you with references. Nature is like
a warden in a lunatic asylum. It stops you from becoming
banal... You must always remain master of the situation
and do what you please. No school tasks, ah, no! no
tasks!... Look here, since you like that sort of thing,
go in there,' he said pointing to a door. I opened the
door and found myself in a lumber room piled with pictures
- heaps of pictures. I saw 'Le Linge', 'Olympia', 'Chez
le pere Lathuille', 'Le Christ aux Anges', 'Argenteuil'.
I was attracted to 'le Pere Lathuille' which was the
best lit. This painting which I had seen in the Salon
of 1880, had always remained in my memory as the most
astonishing representation of a Parisian restaurant...
I stood before this canvas, contemplating the mysterious
charm of this most subtle of paintings, and indeed would
have stayed there I don't know how long, if I had not
been recalled by the voice of Manet. I left this room,
crowded with despised masterpieces and rejoined him.
While I was telling him, as best I could, what impression
his painting had on me, I had the joy of seeing a gleam
of emotion in his eyes, the vivacity of which had not
been impaired by his illness, which remains to me one
of the most precious memories of my life."
Georges Jeanniot, in La Grande Revue, 10 August 1907, quoted in T. Reff, Manet and His Contemporaries, University of Chicago Press, 1983