On “Manet’s Sources”

Michael Fried’s essay on “Manet’s Sources” (Artforum, March, 1969) is by far the most ambitious attempt that has been made to grasp the significance of Manet’s complex relationship to older art during the first half of the 1860s. It is at once a detailed investigation of specific pictures and critical writings, many of which had been neglected by previous students, and an original, boldly speculative synthesis of these data to produce a coherent account. But the very boldness and unconventionality of its views, the very independence of its concepts from all those previously employed, together with its assertive and somewhat condescending tone, will undoubtedly encourage most readers to accept it or reject it out of hand, without examining seriously its observations and arguments. Until such an examination is undertaken, however, no future study of this important subject will be able either

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