La Brioche (1870)

Manet, Édouard (1832-1883)

La Brioche (The Brioche)
Oil on canvas, 65.1 x 81 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

Manet reportedly called still life the “touchstone of the painter.” From 1862 to 1870 he executed several large-scale tabletop scenes of fish and fruit, of which this is the last and most elaborate. It was inspired by the donation to the Louvre of a painting of a brioche by Jean Siméon Chardin, the eighteenth-century French master of still life. Like Chardin, Manet surrounded the buttery bread with things to stimulate the senses—a brilliant white napkin, soft peaches, glistening plums, a polished knife, a bright red box—and, in traditional fashion, topped the brioche with a fragrant flower. (MET)