Le Linge (1875)

Manet, Édouard (1832-1883)

Le Linge (Laundry)
Oil on canvas, 145.4 x 114.9 cm
Barnes FoundationPhiladelphia

A woman washes linen in a flower-filled garden. A child to her right, as if eager to help, tugs at the pail of suds. Washerwomen were popular figures in 19th-century art and literature. Manet‘s good friend Émile Zola, for example, described their tough lives in his novels. But this depiction is idyllic. Flashes of white paint —offset by grays and blues—become sunlight on the drying fabric. After the jury of the French Salon, the annual state art exhibition, rejected this painting, Manet exhibited it independently. (BF)