How does MANET link Realism to Impressionism with "The Luncheon on the Grass"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that what was shocking subject matter exists in Manet's "The Luncheon on the Grass"/Dejeuner sur l'Herbe, indicates his expression of individual freedom, an expression more characteristic of the Impressionists than that of any Realist painter. In addition, there are some other incongruities that defy Realism.  For instance, the background in which the scantily clad woman seems to be bathing in a stream is out of proportion to the men sitting on the blanket.  Thus, the painting lacks the proper depth of field necessary to Realism. Also indicative of Impressionism is that the angle of light is missing, suggesting instead the use of photographic light--the camera was just invented as the Impressionists became popular and they were intrigued with its possibilities--or, simply, the artist's interpretation of the scene. In addition, the tasseled hat of the man on the right is like one would wear indoors, not outdoors.

What is much more Realistic and very uncharacteristic of Impressionism is the clear delineation of the still life in the foreground and the rendering of the three figures on the blanket.  This rendering brought Manet criticism from those who felt he lacked formal invention, a technique characteristic of the Impressionists.