was born in Paris on 23 January, 1832, the eldest
son of a high official in the French Ministry.
In 1848 he failed the entrance exam to naval
college. He subsequently went to sea with the
merchant marines to avoid studying law, as his
father wished. He became a painter against his
father's advice, joining the studio of the respected
academic painter Thomas Couture in 1850. Though
he remained with Couture for six years, Manet
gained his real knowledge of art during visits
to Italy in 1853 and 1857, and to Germany and
Holland in 1856.
Those trips exposed Manet to the same masters
who had so profoundly interpreted realism in
the past: Hals, Velazquez and Goya. Highly independent,
and extraordinarily original in both his unconventional
portrayals of modern life and his spontaneous
brushwork, he struggled for academic acceptance
throughout his life. Although Manet was rebellious
in his subject matter, he craved official recognition,
and this may be why he never 'compromised' himself
by exhibiting at any of the Impressionist exhibitions.
He claimed that he had 'no intention of overthrowing
old methods of painting, or creating new ones'.