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The Fifer

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Joined: 28 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:42 am    Post subject: The Fifer Reply with quote

The Fifer depicts a young piper in guard band team. In exploration of the unity of shape and color, the painter paid attention to the portrait of the character's personality. The painter pursued a stable and bright scene in color and then suddenly turned to the dark where the characters were depicted in light gray and flat background and the body was performed in general color block. In this painting, no shadow, no eye level, no outline, only with the minimum level to paint and negate the profound feeling of three dimensions. Daumier said Manet's painting as flat as cards. Naturalist writer Zola once praised in front of this painting, "I believe no one could like Manet use simpler means to achieve this stronger effect."And now this painting did not give people a great shock. However, in the era of Manet, the advantage of this painting was the rebel, inconsistent with the feudal ethical code. First, this painting had no content; second, it had no deep meaning, only a little boy with nothing to show and represent. Moreover, Manet painted this work very quickly and totally changed his previous techniques. At that time, all the salon judges were unwilling to accept this work, who would have guessed that after more than 100 years, this painting is worth RMB 800000000 Yuan.

In 1860s, Manet who had just got rid of his first teacher Couture's authority was also misunderstood by contemporaries. He experienced several failures in the salon. His figure paintings made in the studio gave people a strange impression and aroused many critics. For instance, The Fifer was refused by the official salon committee in 1866.

This painting represented a royal guard young light cavalry playing the piccolo which was a high-pitched small wooden flute and used to guide the soldiers into battle. The name of the flute became the title of the painting. The musician played by a child in the studio occupied a central position in this painting. He was clearly shown on the gray background with subtle color changes. Without an exact space, the painting bottom made people feel air flowing around him. The painter often used this neutral impalpable background in his portraits, which was edified by the Spanish painters in the golden age, especially Velazquez and Murillo. Not long ago, Manet travelled to Madrid and highly praised them. Because Manet wanted to let this painting appear to be isolated and avoid the impression of creation in parades or in military training site, Manet did not add any anecdote. The child, clothing and piccolo constituted the only theme. The painting was completed in the cold light of the studio, which could be confirmed from the short shade on the ground. Manet had joined the army as a sailor. He looked at this child sailor whose clothes were added for the painting purpose.

This outfit felt proud. His whole attention was centered on the perfect uniform decorated with red, black, white and gold and the golden metal sleeve. The music tube tied in white glistened in the men's tunic dark woolen clothes and trousers, short coat with brass buttons. The cloth tape tightening the child formed a light, lining with white shoes. Only the boy's face and hands were full of vigor, which formed a sharp contrast with the little stiff silhouette without any details. Manet's contemporaries accused the lack of thickness and too simple processing, like the innocent paintings printed in Ebinaer City. There was no entourage and no contact between the background and the characters. These also made the characters not real. The characters were treated with big colors, which was quite similar to the head portraits on cards and Japanese engravings. Manet's The Fifer was well received, which was a challenge to the disregard of the traditional concept in the theme of impressionist paintings.
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