J. Paul Getty Museum Acquires Pastel By Edouard Manet

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the acquisition of Portrait of Julien de la Rochenoire (1882), a pastel by Édouard Manet (1832–1883), one of the greatest late 19th-century French artists. This is the first pastel by Manet to enter the Getty Museum’s collection.

Portrait of Julien de la Rochenoire (1882). Edouard Manet (1832-1883). Pastel on canvas. 21 7/8 x 13 3/4 in.

Portrait of Julien de la Rochenoire (1882). Edouard Manet (1832-1883). Pastel on canvas. 21 7/8 x 13 3/4 in.

“Manet’s pastels are striking for their virtuoso technique, displaying all of the spontaneity and deftness one finds in his best paintings,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “While the Getty owns two of Manet’s celebrated paintings, this pastel—made informally for a friend—is a particularly intimate and personal work, offering the perfect complement to our other holdings of this great artist’s work.”

Over the course of his career, Manet created some 89 known pastels, many of which are portraits of friends. The subject of the Getty’s pastel, Émile Charles Julien de la Rochenoire (1825–1899), was an animal and landscape painter who had known Manet for many years. He frequently visited Manet’s last studio on rue d’Amsterdam, and the pastel was most likely executed during one such visit.

While many of Manet’s pastel portraits have monochrome backgrounds, La Rochenoire is set against swirling patterned wallpaper of brilliant salmon pink and blue, heightening the psychological energy of the sitter’s face. From the rough texture of the hair, mustache, and eyebrows to the zigzag layers of black, white, and gray in his stylish jacket, the entire pastel is worked with bravura and confidence.

“While the majority of Manet’s pastels are of women, his portraits of males tend to be more gripping,” says Lee Hendrix, senior curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “His male sitters display far more verve and personality, and this pastel is one of his most dynamic.”

The newly acquired Manet joins two paintings by the artist already in the Getty’s collection, The Rue Mosnier with Flags (1878) and Portrait of Madame Brunet (1860–63), as well as a watercolor, Bullfight (1865). It also complements the Museum’s holdings of 19th century pastels, which include Edgar Degas’s Waiting (about 1882) and Odilon Redon’s Portrait of Baronne de Domecy (about 1900), and a group of major watercolors and drawings by Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Seurat.

Portrait of Julien de la Rochenoire (1882) will go on view in the Museum’s West Pavilion June 3–August 24, 2014. Also on view in the same gallery will be An Indian Man (c. 1878-79), a drawing by Post-Impressionist luminary Georges Seurat (1859-1891). The work was acquired by the Getty in February, and is considered by scholars to be the most novel achievement of Seurat’s youth.