The Easel

Making the case for late Manet

Art history says there are several Manet’s. The painter of the prostitute Olympia had razor sharp social awareness, whereas the older Manet was “weak and flashy”. Recent scholarship, reflected in an “unusual” Chicago show, disputes this story. Manet was expressing in his late works the same social awareness he showed, decades earlier, with Olympia – an admiration of women with “self-possession”, modern women with agency.