AT the May 2015 meetings of the Shipston Arts and Crafts Society, Margaret-Louise O’Keeffe spoke on ‘Manet and Monet ? Artistic Rebels’, showing how the careers of these two French artists were interlinked and ran in parallel with one another but also how they differed in family background and preferred ways of working. The gregarious Edouard Manet who died relatively young was from the Parisian upper middle class and an urban flaneur while Claude Monet, from a working class family in Le Harve, favoured the countryside and painted in the open air. The lecturer showed reproductions of many of the well-known paintings by both men. Manet’s ‘The Execution of Maximilian’ of 1867 has clear references to Goya’s ‘The Eighth of May’ and his ‘Olympia’, the great scandal of 1865, echoes the ‘Rokeby Venus’ by Velazquez. Monet was more at home in the countryside, on trains, and by the sea, all themes reflected in his paintings. Throughout his life, Monet could devote time to painting a whole series of the same location: the Gare Saint Lazare, a row of poplars, haystacks, or water lilies in his garden. While the Legion d’Honneur and the medal of the Paris Salon came to Manet on his deathbed, he had struggled and been vilified in his early career, from repeated rejection by the Paris Salon. Monet’s ‘Sunrise: Impression’ of 1874 gave rise to the critics’ term ‘Impressionism’, initially a term of some abuse. Both men favoured the underdog: Manet by including the disabled, the downtrodden and the dispossessed in his paintings and Monet by using his later accumulated wealth in helping artists less fortunate than himself and their orphaned children. Monet’s final series, the giant water lily paintings of the 1920s, form a tribute to the dead of the Great War.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 21 at 7.30pm when Linda Farrar will speak on ‘Late Roman Mosaics’ at the Catholic Church Parish Centre, Darlingscote Road, Shipston-on-Stour. All are welcome.