When the Academy called him vain, then he shrugged, when they criticised his work for perceived errors in scale and for showing scenes of downtrodden common contemporary France, he went and painted more of the same.
Delacroix’s romanticism had introduce vivid colour and flare to painting, while Courbet’s realism brought the unfettered, non-idealise truth about ordinary life…..he boasted “He never lied in his paintings”.
Both artists rejected the rigidity of the Academy and the Neoclassicist Renaissance style, but the conditions were not yet right for the Impressionists.
Before they could lead art into a new age, there first needed to be an artist who could combine Delacroix’s painterly virtuosity with Courbet’s unflinching realism.
That role fell to Edouard Manet, born in 1832, the most reluctant of rebels.
His father was a judge who had fostered in his son an inclination to stay on the right side of the law.
But Manet’s artistic heart rules his conformist head, with a little help from a maverick uncle, who took him to art galleries and encouraged his serious minded nephew, to take up the life of an artist.
Which he eventually did, after a couple of failed attempts to pacify his father by joining the navy.
Oddly, for someone who so desperately wanted his work to be recognised by the Academy, once saying the Salon was the real field of battle, he took a rather confrontational approach,
If you were to list the attributes by which the Academy judged the quality of an artwork, we know what they would demand : muted, finely blended colors, classical illusions and exquisitely drawn lines, idealised representation of the human form and aspirational subjects.