Luncheon on the Grass

Luncheonon the Grass

Inthe 19th century, visual art was used as an image of the prevailingcultural norms and to depict historical path that increasinglyfavoured increased viewer observation. The manner in which artistspainted different elements delineated the various factors that shapedthe relationship between individuals. As society continued toembrace modernity artist such as Edouard Manet continuallyreorganized the ways of seeing and constructing different pieces ofart ((Andre, Lhote 1).

In Edouard`s Painting , the visual rendering ofa nude female in the foreground gazing at the viewer directly is oneof elements that depict the extent to which this painting departsfrom traditions. The direct gaze locks with the eyes of the viewerand one cannot but just acknowledge the young lady as an individualwoman (Andre, Lhote 19). In the 18th-century many painters and thesociety in general easily objectified women. It was an era that wascharacterized by male chauvinism and women had little influence onthe decision that shaped the society. In this painting Manet portraysthe woman as one with the power and who completely own up to hersexuality, and to some extent to her nudity. It portrays the woman asone who is aware of the prevailing situation, (picnic) and has optedto be naked. This is illustrated by the discarded clothes beside her(Andre, Lhote 20).

Thedirect gaze makes the viewer uncomfortable and unlike in manypaintings of that era where the viewer was accorded the ownership ofthe naked woman`s sexuality, in this case the viewer is meetinghead-on with her clout and her raw sexuality. In this painting Manetcompletely breaks the established traditions where women wereobjectified in visual art through passive gawk and placing nakedwomen in a pose that permits them to overlap the thin line betweendivinity and reality (Andre, Lhote 19). In this painting and throughthe direct gaze of the female in the foreground, Edouard has accordedher liberty, an element that coerces the viewer to contemplate aboutgiving all women their sexual power. It appears that the viewer isunder pressure to allow the woman to be in total control and own hersexuality (Andre, Lhote 20). In the same vein, the gaze also seems tolimit the extent to which the viewer can get sexual satisfaction fromthen female character in the painting, expected from the naked womanin the foreground.

Manyartists approved application of observation power that would impoundwomen within a narrow legroom of a divine private life. An idealwoman in the 19th century was supposed to be a role model reticentintern of sexuality and kept out public life (Andre, Lhote 18). Allthese concepts are challenged by Manet portrayal of a strong womanwith power and ready to challenge the set norms and principles thatthreatened to confine them within certain realms. The painting defieswhat a 19th-century public expected and what they believed visual artwas supposed to represent, and how paintings were expect to look.Manet painting without a doubt presented the present more vividly andclearly even though most people at that time wanted to see thepresent revealed and diminished by the rearview-mirror technique thatwas adopted by most artist. It is because of this reason among othersthat made the official Dalon to reject it in 1863 (Sayre, Henry 47).


Andre,Lhote.TheAvant-Garde in the 19th Century. 2007. Retrieved from:

Sayre,Henry M. AWorld of Art.Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.