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Masked Ball at the Opera

Édouard Manet1873

Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation

Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation

Edouard Manet produced several paintings of masked balls, as well as studies for them. The most polished and complete of these, in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., was one that Manet submitted to the Salon. It was rejected, possibly because of its risqué content. In this version, a group of black-clad men in silk hats and tailcoats surrounds masked women wearing colorful costumes. The women are dancers and courtesans who are being seduced by those upper-class men. Manet liked painting such scenes of the manners and customs of his times. The eddy of people in between the two large pillars in the painting is depicted with a bold, swift touch that communicates the bustling motion of the crowd and its excitement.

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