When Edouard Manet (1832-1883) began to paint genre (everyday) subjects, such as old beggars, street urchins, café characters, and Spanish bullfight scenes, he was challenging all of the standard of the Salon. Monet adopted a direct, bold brush technique in his treatment of realistic subject matter—which was bitterly attacked by his critics. In 1866, the French novelist Emile Zola, who championed the art of Manet in the newspaper Figaro, became a close friend of the painter. He was soon joined by the young group of French impressionist painters, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Cezanne, who were influenced by Manet's art and who, in turn, influenced him! Together, they all dramtically changed the direction of art. But it was definitely Manet who led the charge.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) was a French painter, often dubbed “the father of modern art”. He strove to develop an ideal synthesis of naturalistic representation, personal expression, and abstract pictorial order. Among the artists of his day, Cézanne perhaps has had the most profound effect on the art of the twentieth century. He was the greatest single influence on both Henri Matisse, who admired his color, and Pablo Picasso, who—with Georges Braque—developed Cézanne's planar compositional structure into the cubist style. During the greater part of his own lifetime, Cézanne was largely ignored. He worked in isolation, mistrusted critics, had few friends, and, until 1895, exhibited only occasionally. He was alienated even from his family, who found his behavior peculiar and failed to appreciate his revolutionary art. Despite that, there is a gentleness and tenderness to much of Cézanne’s work. Though often described as “rustic” his art also embraces a great deal of refinement—such as the landscape featured here.
Leonardo Da Vinci started painting the Mona Lisa in 1504 or 1505 and finished only shortly before he died in 1519. Some reports say that it took him 10 years to perfect Mona Lisa's lips. It should be noted, however, that he kept returning to the painting. It was not the only project he worked on during those 10 years.
Sienese Mannerist Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551) took his name from a wealthy Sienese patron of the same name—who also had him apprenticed to a local painter. From the very beginning, Beccafumi's highly personal style was concerned with light: he made light vibrate to convey emotion or spiritual illumination. He achieved his effects through strong perspective and contrapposto, soft colors, and elongated, elaborately intertwined figures. Contrapposto refers to the twisting of the human figure on its own vertical axis. Like other of the Mannerists, Beccafumi would wield influence during the much later Modern era.