This spray of lilac — as laconic as it is tonally fascinating — is one of a group of still lifes that Manet painted in the last years of his life as he was becoming increasingly ill. Manet’s brush records with simplicity and sensitivity the transient effects of light on the tender pastel colors of the lilac, on the restless texture of the blossoms, and in the independent restlessness of the light refractions in the water. Decades before, he had devoted considerable painterly finesse to simple still lifes. But late works like this one, with its concentration on finely gradated color combinations — blue, green, and brown — and on the meticulously observed materiality of the heavy flower heads, is pure painting, practised for its own sake and, in its concentration, bearing witness to the wise self-limitation of the mature, older artist.


  • Title: White Lilac
  • Creator: Edouard Manet
  • Date Created: around 1882
  • Physical Dimensions: w42.0 x h54.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A II 379
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Acquired 1909, bequest of Felicie Bernstein
  • Artist biography: Édouard Manet was one of the most important and controversial French painters of the 19th century, whose works sometimes scandalized Parisian society and became a great inspiration for the Impressionists. In 1845 he took part in a special course of drawing and met Antonin Proust who later became the Minister of Fine Arts. From 1850–56 Manet was an apprentice under the history painter Thomas Couture and copied the old masters in the Louvre. In 1853 he travelled to Germany, Italy and the Netherlands where he was influenced by Dutch artists such as Frans Hals as well as by Spanish painters like Diego Velázquez and Francisco Josè de Goya. In 1856 he opened his own studio. During his early years his style was characterized by simplified details and the realism of his day. His main subjects were people, for example in cafés or ballet scenes, humble persons such as beggars or gypsies and scenes of daily life. Rather less frequently, he also painted religious, mythological or historical themes. His friends included several Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir or Paul Cézanne. Manet became famous for artworks like 'Le déjeuner sur l’herbe' (1862), 'Olympia' (1863) 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère' (1882) and 'The Café Concert' (1878).
  • Artist Place of Death: Paris, France
  • Artist Place of Birth: Paris, France
  • Artist Dates: 1832-01-23/1883-04-30

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