Manet’s portrait of the actress and singer Méry Laurent captures a sense of her sparkling personality.
Rather than having her pose in the traditional way, the artist presents her as if she stopped by for a chat, dressed in street clothes and a small, brimless hat. By 1880, as his health deteriorated, Manet had begun to make increasing use of pastels, which were somewhat easier to work with than oil paint. This freely drawn portrait records the sitter’s features and suggests the friendship she and the artist shared.
|Medium||Pastel on canvas|
|Dimensions||21 3/4 x 13 5/8 in. (55.3 x 34.6 cm) Frame: 29 1/8 x 21 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (74 x 54.6 x 7 cm)|
|Acquisition||Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1934|
Édouard Manet, Méry Laurent Wearing a Small Toque, 1882, Pastel on canvas. The Clark Art Institute, 1955.565.
Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.
The artist, probably sold to Blanche; Jacques-E´mile Blanche, Paris (until at least 1912); [Georges Bernheim, Paris, before 1931]; [Joseph (Jos) Hessel, Paris, by 1932]; S.A.P.O.R., sold to Durand-Ruel, New York, 17 May 1934;¹ [Durand-Ruel, New York, sold to Clark, 17 May 1934, as Buste de femme, Mary Laurent]; Robert Sterling Clark (1934–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.
1. According to their records, Durand-Ruel bought this work from S.A.P.O.R. for $14,450.00, but the seller cannot be identified further. See correspondence in the Clark’s curatorial file with Caroline Godfroy of 24 Apr. and 3 May 2001.