Édouard Manet
French, 1832-1883

Fish (Still Life), 1864

Oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 36 1/4 in. (73.4 x 92.1 cm)
Signed lower right: Manet
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1942.311

Fish (Still Life)

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Although still-life ensembles were an important element in many of the major paintings of the avant-garde artist Édouard Manet, his most sustained interest in the genre itself was from 1864 to 1865, when Fish was painted. Manet’s focus on still lifes coincided with the gradual reacceptance of the genre during the nineteenth century, due in part to the growing middle class, whose tastes ran to intimate, moderately priced works. This painting, like many of Manet’s still-life compositions, recalls seventeenth-century Dutch models. The directness of execution, bold brushwork, and immediacy of vision displayed in the canvas, however, suggest why the public found Manet’s work so unorthodox and confrontational. While Fish is indeed an image of "dead nature" (nature morte is the French term for still life), there is nothing still about the work: the produce seems fresh and the handling of paint vigorous. Further enlivening the composition is the placement of the carp, which offsets the strong diagonal of the other elements. Manet never submitted his still lifes to the official French Salon, but rather sold them through the burgeoning network of art galleries in Paris and gave them to friends.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 212.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galerie Martinet, 1865, cat. 5.

Paris, Place de l’Alma, Exhibition Manet Particulière, May 1867, cat. 38.

Paris, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Exposition des oeuvres d’Édouard Manet, January 1884, cat. 31.

Paris, Exposition Internationale Universelle, Exposition Centennale de l’Art Français, 1880–1889, 1900, cat. 31.

Paris, Manzi, Joyant et Cie, Exposition d’art moderne, 1912, cat. 27.

New York, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Paintings by Édouard Manet, 1913, cat. 6.

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Loan Exhibition of Old Masters, 1920, cat. 9.

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Paintings, Édouard Manet, Pierre Renoir, Berthe Morisot, October 15-December 1, 1924, cat. 37, traveled to Cleveland, 1925.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Catalogue of the Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibit of the Great Lakes Exposition, June 26–October 4, 1936, cat. 286.

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Édouard Manet: A Retrospective Exhibition for the Benefit of French Hospitals, March–April 1937, cat. 7.

New York, Wildenstein & Co., organized by Institute of Modern Art, The Sources of Modern Painting, April–May 1939, cat. 9a (ill.).

New York, World’s Fair, Masterpieces of Art, May–October 1940, cat. 282 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month, February 1944, no cat.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Manet, November 3–December 11, 1965, cat. 95 (ill.), traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, January 13-Februray 19, 1966.

New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Triumph of Realism, 1967, cat. 5, traveled to Richmond, Virginia, Museum of Fine Arts, December 11, 1967–January 14, 1968 and San Francisco, February 17–March 31, 1968, cat. 5.

Albi, France, Musée Toulous-Lautrec, Trésors impressionists du musée de Chicago, June 27–August 31, 1980, cat. 1 (ill.).

Paris, Galeies Nationales du Grand Palais, Manet (1832–1883), April 22–August 1, 1983, cat. 81 (ill.), traveled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 10–November 27, 1983.

Copenhagen, Ordrupgaard, Manet, 1989, cat. 8 (ill.).

Paris, Musée d’Orsay, Manet les natures mortes, October 9, 2000-January 7, 2001, cat. 17 (ill.), traveled to Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, January 30-April 22, 2001.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Manet and the Sea, October 20, 2003-Janury 19, 2004, no cat. no., pl. 18, traveled to The Philadelphia Museum of Art, February 15-May 30, 2004 and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, June 18-September 26, 2004.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 1 (ill.).

Publication History

Théodore Duret, Histoire d’Édouard Manet et de son oeuvre (Paris, 1902), no. 70.

Théodore Duret, Manet and the French Impressionists (London, 1910), p. 220, no. 220.

Antonin Proust, Édouard Manet: Souvenirs (Paris, 1913), p. 54, no. 38.

Théodore Duret, Histoire de Édouard Manet et de son oeuvre (Paris, 1926), no. 70 (ill.).

Étienne Moreau-Nelaton, Manet: Raconté par Lui-Même (Paris, 1926), vol. 1, pp. 63, 79, fig. 69, vol. 2, fig. 344.

Adolphe Tabarant, Manet, Histoire Catalographique (Paris, 1931), p. 131, no. 90.

Paul Jamot and Georges Wildenstein, Manet (Paris, 1932), vol. 1, p. 128, no. 96, vol. 2, p. 197, fig. 406.

Théodore Duret, Manet, trans. J. E. Crawford Flitch, 1937, pl. 39 (ill.).

Gotthard Jedlicka, Édouard Manet (Erlenbach-Zurich, 1941), p. 197.

Art News 41 (February 1, 1943), p. 31, (ill.).

Art News 42 (January 1, 1944), p. 27 (ill.).

F. A. Sweet, “An Important Stiff Life by Édouard Manet,” Art Institute Bulletin 38 (1944), pp. 35–37 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month: Notes and Bibliography, (February 1944), pp. 82, 83.

The Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 1945), pp. 36-37 (ill.).

A. Tabarant, Manet et ses oeuvres (Paris, 1947), pp. 97, 98, 518, 535, 605, no. 90 (ill.).

J.-L. Vaudoyer, E. Manet (Paris, 1955), pl. 20.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1956), pp. 32 (ill.), 35.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection, 1961, pp. 267–268.

Pierre Courthion, Édouard Manet (New York, 1962), pp. 84–85.

Phoebe Pool and Sandra Orienti, The Complete Paintings of Manet (New York, 1967), pl. VIb.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (New York, 1970), pp. 77 (ill.).

Denis Rouart and Daniel Wildenstein, Edouard Manet: Catalogue raisonné: Peintures vol. 1 (Paris, 1975), no. 80 (ill.).

Anne Coffin Hanson, Manet and the Modern Tradition (New York, 1977), p. 70, pl. 27.

The Art Institute of Chicago 100 Masterpieces (Chicago, 1978), p. 85, no. 43 (ill.).

Gabriel P. Weisberg and William S. Talbot, Chardin and the Still-Life Tradition in France (Cleveland, 1979), p. 39, fig. 26.

Richard R. Brettell, French Salon Artists 1800-1900 (Chicago, 1987), pp. 55-56 (ill.).

Kathleen Adler, Manet (Oxford, 1986), pp. 189–191, fig. 179.

J. Patrice Marandel, “A Note on Bazille’s ‘Still Life with Fish,’” Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 65, 4 (1990), p. 6, 7, 11, fig.2, no. 8.

Frédéric Bazille exh. cat. (Montpellier, Musée Fabre and New York, The Brooklyn Museum, 1992), p. 93, under cat. 12.

Manuela B. Mena Marqués, ed., Manet en el Prado (Madrid, Museo National del Prado, 2003-4), p. 222 (ill.), under cat. 59.

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 1, pp. 28–29 (ill.).

Ownership History

Félix Gérard, Paris by 1884 [see Paris 1884 and Tabarant 1947]. Manzi, Paris by 1900 until at least 1912 [see Paris 1900 and Paris 1912]. Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York by November 1913 [see New York 1913]; possibly sold to Mr. Alfred Chatain, Chicago, ca. 1913 [according to Rouart and Wildenstein 1975]. Mrs. John W. Simpson, New York by 1920 [see New York 1920]; placed on consignment at Knoedler and Co., New York, July 1942 [according to Cachin 1983]; sold to the Art Institute in July 1942 [see shipping receipt, dated June 22, 1942, copy in curatorial file].