In the Conservatory
|In the Conservatory|
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||115 cm × 150 cm (45.3 in × 59.1 in)|
|Location||Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin|
In the Conservatory (French: Dans la serre) is an 1879 oil painting by Édouard Manet in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. The setting is a conservatory at 70 Rue d'Amsterdam in Paris, then owned by painter Otto Rosen and which Manet used as a studio for nine months in 1878 and 1879. At first glance, we see a double portrait of a fashionable and attractive couple of some social rank. They are Manet's friends, the Guillemets, who owned a clothing shop. Their married status is conveyed by their rings, and the proximity of their hands is the nearest hint of intimacy. The woman becomes the focus of the portrait, however, being more prominently placed and colourfully dressed. Their physical separation—with the husband Jules slouching in dark clothing behind the bench—and their lack of engagement with the viewer create a sense of detachment, which has been the primary theme in modern criticism of the work.
The painting was exhibited in the 1879 Paris Salon and was regarded as surprisingly conservative for Manet. Jules-Antoine Castagnary wrote, with tongue in cheek, "But what is this? Face and hands more carefully drawn than usual: is Manet making concessions to the public?"—and said it portrayed "the elegance of fashionable life". Yet the portrait is not entirely conventional—the sense of dislocation carries to the background. Joris-Karl Huysmans called the subjects "marvelously detached from the envelope of green surrounding them". The interplay of lines formally defines the work. The woman has an erect posture echoed by the vertical slats of the bench, and the man, though leaning forward, does not break that vertical. The bench continues off the right side, reinforcing the horizontal and the separation of foreground and background. The diagonal pleats on the woman's dress provide some relief from the linearity of the composition.
In 1945 by the end of the Second World War In the Conservatory was among the objects evacuated from the German National Gallery and the Berlin State Museums and put for safekeeping in a mine in Merkers. After the war the picture was discovered and secured by the Monuments Men. Its salvage was documented in several photographs which show soldiers from the U.S. Army posing with Manet’s painting in the mine in Merkers. These photographs have gained iconographic status over the years and are often falsely used as an illustration of Nazi looted art in prestigious publications like the Deutsche Welle, The Washington Post, The New York Times and even in academic papers.
A portrait of Manet's wife, Suzanne, in a similar setting and also from 1879
- Herbert, R. L. (1991). Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press; p. 182. ISBN 0300050836
- Lehmbeck, Leah Rosenblatt (2007). Edouard Manet's Portraits of Women. New York: New York University/ProQuest. pp. 107–109; at length in Crary. ISBN 0549099662.
- Crary, Jonathan (2001). Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 90. ISBN 0262531992.
- Lehmbeck, Leah Rosenblatt (2007). Edouard Manet's Portraits of Women. New York: New York University/ProQuest. pp. 109, fn 85. ISBN 0549099662.
- Brombert, Beth Archer (1997). Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 450. ISBN 0226075443.
- Demandt, Philipp (2015). Schule des Sehens. Die Nationalgalerie und die Moderne. Berlin: Hirmer. p. 14. ISBN 978-3-7774-2343-2.
- Dr. Bradsher, Greg (25 June 2014). "Wintergarden by Manet was NOT Looted by the Nazis". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Deutsche Welle (21 November 2013). "Affäre-Gurlitt: Zentralrat der Juden klagt über Umgang mit NS-Raubkunst". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Fisher Sullam, Susan (19 June 2014). "Monuments Men: A Baltimore writer learns her father helped in the search for Nazi plunder". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Mashberg, Tom (5 May 2015). "Returning the Spoils of World War II, Taken by Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Meier, Oliver; Feller, Michael; Christ, Stefanie (2017). Der Gurlitt-Komplex. Bern und die Raubkunst. Zurich: Chronos. p. 76. ISBN 978-3-0340-1357-4.
- Brombert, Beth Archer (1997). Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226075443.
- Crary, Jonathan (2001). Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture. MIT Press. ISBN 0262531992.
- Lehmbeck, Leah Rosenblatt (2007). Edouard Manet's Portraits of Women. New York University/ProQuest. ISBN 0549099662.