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Still Life with Fish and Shrimp, 1864

Édouard Manet

French, 1832-1883
Oil on canvas
17-5/8 x 28-3/4 in. (44.8 x 73 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

As the critic Émile Zola explained in 1866, “Even the most determined enemies of Édouard Manet’s talent admit that he paints inanimate objects well.” Unlike the ambitious figure paintings he sent to the Salon year after year, Manet’s modest still lifes were universally admired in his own time. Stripping the genre of its allegorical associations—fasts and feasts, time, the seasons, the senses—compositions like this one excused early viewers from the need to decipher a story or conventional meaning, freeing them instead to admire Manet’s deft, succinct application of paint, evident in the salmon’s glittering, impasted scales, the long, elegant strokes of the needlefish’s head, and the dainty, filigreed shrimp.

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