(Born Paris, 23 January 1832; died Paris, 30 April 1883). French painter and printmaker, one of the giants of 19th-century art. He was the son of a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Justice and inherited considerable wealth when his father (who disapproved of his choice of career) died in 1862. His upper middle-class background was important, for although he was seen as an artistic rebel, he always sought traditional honours and success and he cut an impeccable figure as a man about town. He trained under Couture, 1850–6, but his own style was based mainly on a study of the Old Masters at the Louvre, and particularly Spanish painters such as Velázquez (his greatest artistic hero) and Ribera. During the 1850s he visited museums in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Italy and it is one of the ironies of Manet's career that a painter with such reverence for the art of the past should be so much attacked for his modernity.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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