‘The Italian’ Painting done in 1860 and is undoubtedly one of the remarkable pieces of art done by the talented Edouard Manet in an attempt to express diverse ideas and styles. His ideas of paintings cycled around literary art, architecture, theology, science and so much more. He is famous for challenging social morals, academicians, painting present-day artworks at the same time provoking the eye and thought.
The Italian painting depicts a woman with hands wrapped around her chest seemingly relaxed and thoughtful. The facial expression doesn’t portray any sadness or pain but a warm, settled and beautiful facial appearance with a light touch of the smile, even though the smile clearly doesn’t emerge as such.
Additionally, the woman wears the white head scarf and circular outwardly hand-made earrings, while in a dress that is top-white and the bottom embracing a mixture of colors from light-red, black among others.
It doesn’t come out clearly what Edouard Manet had in mind while working on this piece of art, but the impression of the woman carries one thing for sure; at first glance, there is a reflection of a sense of a peaceful mood and some little-collected composure in the woman, pondering something she seems to be staring at or thinking about
This relates to the history of Manet’s drawings, in which the subject mostly didn’t look directly at the viewer, but if you came across one such piece, mostly it was in a more provocative way at a glance.
Arguably, perhaps the rest is left for the audience to construe but nothing can pass the first eye with a mere glance; the painting carries a tranquil mood.
Manet used layers of oil paint applications on the existing almost dry layers instead of opting for the old-style way of doing this painting. He built a layer of glaze on dried layers on the paint.
In the ‘Italian’ painting he used brushstrokes that were loose, quick and a little bit broader, the reason the painting more visible to the eye instead of embracing a fine blend not clear to view.
He preferred little heavier applications of oil paint on the woman in this ‘Italian’ painting with darker layers at the background. This is to help the viewer have a clearer glance at the parts of the painting.
Most of Manet’s portraits displayed people since he emerged as one of the realist artists at the time. Some of his artwork had no symmetry in nature and a glance wasn’t enough to get it all.
Some of his related works were ‘Lola de Valence’ 1862, A woman pouring water 1858, ‘Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire's Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan)’ – 1862 and ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’ (1882).
Related work from other artists
Similar works from included The Water seller of Seville done by the Spanish Velázquez and ‘alla prima’ by the famous American expatriate painter John Singer Sargent among other ideologically aligned artists like Pierre-A. Renoir (1841-1919). His influence and inspiration are interconnected to a timeless line including to so many other artists in Japan.