Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
Au Bal (At the Ball), 1870-1880
Oil on canvas
22 x 14 in. (55.7 x 35.5 cm)
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

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Édouard Manet’s Au Bal represents a fashionable young society figure and family friend of the artist, Marguerite de Conflans, at a soirée. She appears in profile, caught in a moment of reverie while admiring herself in a mirror. The idealized, intensely detailed and hyper-polished style, typical of mid-19th-century Academic portraiture, is not in evidence here. Instead, Manet’s rendering of the Parisienne, which is closely cropped and seemingly quickly and loosely executed in delicate pastel tones, exudes a charmingly modern informality and immediacy.
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