Le Déjeuner

Neue Pinakothek


The title of the painting, “Le déjeuner dans l’atelier“, diverts from the fact that this image depicts Léon Koëlla Leenhoff, the then sixteen-years-old natural son of the Netherlandish pianist Suzanne Leenhoff, Manet had married in 1863. It is likely that he was Léon’s father. He painted his likeness several times. Léon is the protagonist: painted close up, directly from the front and almost over the entire height of the canvas. The two other people present, as well as everything else, refer to him or are subordinated to him. The servant, the smoker, the still life of weapons on an armchair, the plant in the colourful pot and the laid table, but also the French door and the map on the back wall – everything is composed in reference to the young man, focuses on him and distracts from him at the same time.The emphasis that brings him into the painting is at the same time weakened by the casual. Léon does not stand in the centre of the painting and he is not depicted at full length. He does not look directly at the spectator, but gazes – withdrawn, a bit blasé, a bit melancholic – past the onlooker. Manet depicted in this image the modern type of dandy, whose self-image ranges between superiority and isolation. Despite his fashionable outfit, despite his identity as an elegant young Parisian, he is still part of a long tradition, which is directly cited by Manet. Both the weapons and the helmet on the left as well as he Netherlandish still life on the table remind of a time two centuries previously. Meanwhile, Manet hints at traditions of which he took part as an artist. Several of his works confirm that he oriented his own oeuvre on that of Rubens, Velazquez, Frans Hals and the Dutch still life painters. To an extent, a younger generation of artists, for example Goya and Delacroix, had acted as intermediaries.

Rights Statement Description

CC BY-SA 4.0