Manet revolutionised portraiture at the end of the 19th Century by refusing to conform to the traditional method of modelling facial form.  Until he came along a portrait artist would cast a strong light upon their sitter (thus also creating strong shade) and then laboriously mix their skin tone, half tone, highlights, shadow edge, shadows and deep shadows (see the egg demo below that I give to my portrait classes).  This creates drama, which I personally love, but I’m still glad Manet came along and now I have the choice whether to do it or not!  He observed that when a person is outside this modelling is, for want of a better word, bobbins!  A key forerunner to the Impressionist movement, he wanted to paint what he really experienced in the natural world and so courageously painted the faces of his sitters in a very limited range of tones, preferring to introduce light-dark contrasts into his paintings within the setting or the clothing.  Have a look at ‘The Railway’ also below. Their faces are flat, the contrast instead is in the railings and their clothes.


That’s why the RA exhibition in London is a must for me.  V. excited especially to see the ones of Berthe Morisot and ‘The Railway’.  It runs from the 26th January to the 14th April.

PS. Children’s book on Monet (educational slant: introducing twelve useful everday French words) is coming along nicely.