Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 29, 1878, lot 41
Mme. Martinet, Paris (acquired from the above sale and sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 8, 1893, lot 46)
Claude Lafontaine, Paris (acquired from the above sale)
Auguste Pellerin, Paris (acquired from the above sale and sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 7, 1926, lot 64)
Jos Hessel, Paris
Auguste Pellerin Collection, Paris (Sold: Christie’s, New York, November 8, 1999, lot 136)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Manet, 1996, no. 44 illustrated in color p. 104
Joséphin Péladan, "Le Procédé de Manet d'aprés l'Exposition faite à l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts," L'Artiste, Paris, February 1884, p. 114
Théodore Duret, Histoire d'Edouard Manet et de son oeuvre par Théodore Duret, avec un catalogue des peintures et des pastels, Paris, 1902, no. 168
Jules Meier-Graefe, Edouard Manet, Munich, 1912, p. 218
Adolphe Tabarant, "Une Histoire inconnue du Polichinelle," Bulletin de la vie artistique, Paris, September 1,1923, p. 366
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton, Manet raconté par lui-même, Paris, 1926, vol. II, pp. 7-10, illustrated fig. 177
Georges Bazin, "Manet et la tradition," L'Amour de l'Art, Paris, May 1932, illustrated p. 155
Paul Jamot & Georges Wildenstein, Manet, vol. II, Paris, 1932, no. 216, illustrated p. 24
Lionello Venturi, Les archives de l'impressionnisme, Paris, 1939, vol. II, p. 205
Adolphe Tabarant, Manet et ses oeuvres, Paris, 1947, no. 220, pp. 234-235
Michel Florisoone, Manet, Monaco, 1947, pp. XV and XXI
George Heard Hamilton, Manet and His Critics, New Haven, 1954, pp. 176, 179-180 and 209
Bernard Dorival, "Meissonier et Manet," Art de France, Paris, 1962, no. 2, illustrated p. 222
Phoebe Pool & Sandra Orienti, The Complete Paintings of Manet, New York, 1967, no. 188B illustrated p. 103
Denis Rouart & Sandra Orienti, Tout l'oeuvre peint d'Edouard Manet, Paris, 1970, no. 190b, illustrated
Denis Rouart & Daniel Wildenstein, Edouard Manet, Catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1975, vol. I, no. 213 illustrated p. 179
Theodore Reff, Manet and Modern Paris: One Hundred Paintings, Drawings, Prints, and Photographs by Manet and His Contemporaries, (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982, p. 124
From typically Spanish subjects, such as Matadors and Majas, Manet went on to use this template to engage with more native and contemporary subjects. In these works the artist sometimes substituted or sublimated the actual profession and character of the model with a different identity, thus Le fifre may have been alternately posed for by a musician of the Imperial Gaurd, Léon Leenhof or Victorine Meurent. In the Wildenstein and Roaurt catalogue entry on the present work they state that it was the painter Edmond André who posed for Manet. André was an habitué of the Café Guerbois, where Manet chose to spend much of his time.
In 1973 Léon Duchemin saw the present work during a visit to Manet’s studio, and went on to write about it (under the nom de plume Fervacques) for Le Figaro: “On the walls hang some of the painter’s finest works. Firstly the famous Déjeuner sur l’herbe rejected by the jury who, foolishly, have failed to understand that it showed, not a nude woman, but a woman undressed, which is something different. The paintings, exhibited at different periods: La leçon de musique, Le balcon, La belle Olympia… Then, a Marine, a sketch of two women seated in open fields, with a nearby village, a portrait of a woman and an exquisite Polichinelle, in a very jaunty pose. While we were admiring this painting, so viciously attacked and yet so full of talent, Manet painted a watercolor of another Polichinelle, who poses in the middle of the studio, dressed in his charming and traditional costume. It is enlivened with a delicate, colourful and spiritual touch” (Fervacques, op. cit. Translated from the French).
Manet painted a sketch for the present work, as well as the aforementioned watercolor, and included Polichinelle in his 1873 work Le bal de l’opera. However, as Ronald Pickvance remarks in his catalogue entry on the present work, “these were not Manet’s first images of Polichinelle, the notorious character from the commedia dell’arte, traditionally grotesque and deceitful. Manet first used the head of Polichinelle in 1862 for one of his frontispiece etchings’ (R. Pickvance, in Manet (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 1996, p. 231). These portrayals of Polichinelle - appropriate to the jester’s mischievous personality – became notorious after the publication of his seven-coloured lithograph in 1874. The first edition was supposed to be sent to the 8,000 subscribers of the republican newspaper Le Temps. However over 1,500 of these were destroyed and the lithographic stone confiscated by the police. Theodore Reff has suggested the figure and his features bore a remarkable resemblance to the reactionary General and recently elected President of the Republic, Maréchal Patrice de MacMahon. “His stance is indeed that of a general inspecting his troops, and the bat he holds behind his back may allude to ‘Maréchal Baton’, MacMahon’s nickname, just as the bicorned hat he wears en bataillon may have Napoleonic connotations’ (T. Reff, Manet and Modern Paris, Chicago & London, 1982, p. 124).
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