Mlle. Victorine in the Costume of an Espada (Victorine Meurent)
Mlle. Victorine in the Costume of an Espada (Victorine Meurent), 1862
Graphite, pen and ink, watercolor on tracing paper; incised for transfer
30.5 x 22.9 cm (12 x 9 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 21.483
(June 5 –October 26, 2008)
This watercolor is an intermediary work in preparation for an etching Manet made after his own painting, Mlle V… in the Costume of an Espada, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Lines incised into the sheet indicate how he transferred the image to the etching plate. In a letter dated 1916 from New York, Mrs. Eliza Radeke’s art agent Martin Birnbaum pressed her to act as quickly as possible to purchase the drawing.
Dear Mrs. Radeke, Will you be in town this week? A remarkable Manet watercolor (Toreador in the Bullring) signed has been offered for sale ($650.00) at very low price for such an interesting rarity. It is really a fine complete example and more attractive than most of his subjects. I think it is probably the original study for the Havemeyer picture. Would you dare buy such a thing on my advice? I must give the owner an answer immediately, and everybody is out of town,— if I had more time I would send it on approval, and if I am given more time I will gladly do so.
Mrs. Radeke rarely purchased artworks without first seeing them, and only under duress would her scrupulous agent dare to press her to a decision for fear of losing a great object.(August 19, 2005 – January 22, 2006)
Manet and Degas purportedly met in the Louvre Museum, Paris, while both were copying the same painting by Diego Velázquez. Although Manet and Degas shared an interest in studying the Old Masters and in the portrayal of contemporary life, Manet was the artist with whom Degas developed the most overtly competitive relationship. In a conversation with the English painter Walter Sickert (one of the figures in Degas’s group portrait Six Friends at Dieppe), Degas lamented, “Everything [Manet] does he always hits off straight away, while I take endless pains and never get it right” (Walter Sickert, “Degas,” Burlington Magazine, vol. 31, no.176 [November 1917], pp. 97-98). Degas owned 8 paintings, 14 drawings, and 69 prints by Manet, while Manet’s inventory at his death did not include a single work by Degas.
This watercolor is an intermediary work in preparation for an etching Manet made after his own painting Mlle. V. in the Costume of an Espada. Lines incised into the sheet indicate how he transferred its image to the etching plate.
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Selection V: French Watercolors and Drawings, ca. 1800-1910. Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1975.
Woodward, Carla M., Franklin W. Robinson, eds, A Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988.