At the Café (ca. 1879) by Edouard ManetThe Walters Art Museum
They have similar names, emerged in Paris around the same time, and are both considered fathers of the Impressionist movement. Manet and Monet have a lot in common. They were also friends and probably influenced each other’s work.
Snow Scene at Argenteuil (1875) by Claude MonetThe National Gallery, London
However, there were some notable differences between the two men and their paintings - more than just a different vowel in their signatures. Take our test below to find out if you can separate a Manet from a Monet and learn a bit more about what makes their styles so distinct.
Luncheon on the Grass (1863) by Edouard ManetMusée d’Orsay, Paris
'The Luncheon on the Grass' 1862-63
This scandalous picture features two fully clothed men and a nude woman sitting on the grass, with another female figure bathing in the background. As the naked woman looking at the viewer was not representative of a mythological figure but rather depicted an ordinary woman, the picture was considered inappropriate. But who painted it?
The style of painting breaks with the accepted tradition of the time, with Manet making no attempt to hide the brush strokes, and some parts of it even looking unfinished. Not much is known about the subjects of the painting but the lighting seems to indicate it was completed in a studio.
The Water-Lily Pond (1899) by Claude MonetThe National Gallery, London
'Water Lillies' 1899
Part of a well-known series by the painter, with more than 300 works in total, this featured a bridge over a lily pond he had installed at his home at Giverny. The painting is all about nature and its interactions with light, focusing on detailed spots on the water. But is it Manet or Monet?
The brush strokes are fragmented and rough, showing the effects of light on an environment, less smooth than Manet’s. Monet focused a lot more on landscapes and the natural world around him, with Manet being more interested in the everyday lives of people.
Poppy Field (1873) by Claude MonetMusée d’Orsay, Paris
‘The Poppy Field near Argenteuil’ 1873
This beautiful summer’s day is captured in all its glory. It features two pairs of figures, most likely mothers and daughters, strolling through a poppy field. Two separate color zones are established in the painting by the line of trees on the horizon, showing the interplay of light in the natural world. Manet or Monet? What do you think?
Again, with the focus being more on the natural world and its responsiveness to light, this is classic Monet. A true Impressionist work, the figures are created with broad and rough strokes, with little detail. The real genius of the artist is in creating mood, placing you right in the middle of the poppies on a glorious summer day.
Olympia (1863) by Edouard ManetMusée d’Orsay, Paris
Another controversial painting for its time, Olympia features a reclining nude woman (again, not based on a mythological figure) with a cat at her feet. Besides her sits another figure, presenting her with a bunch of flowers. The confrontational gaze of the nude figure, seemingly staring at the viewer through the fourth wall, caused a real shock during its first exhibition. But is this classic Manet or Monet?
Featuring controversial but everyday subject matter, a figure looking out of the canvas and broad, smooth brushstrokes, this could only be Manet. There’s little doubt this was a real woman, Victorine Meurent, posing for the artist in a studio setting. The very fact the model was a known face on the art scene was also scandalous at the time.
Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877) by Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)The Art Institute of Chicago
Could you tell the Manets from the Monets?
How did you get on? Were you able to spot the Manets hiding amongst the Monets? If not, hopefully you learned something about the difference between the artists' work. If you'd like to know more about Monet you can check out The National Gallery's Monet collection here.