Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Manet, the painter who was the precursor of Impressionism, was also the scandalous painter of his time. With "The Luncheon on the Grass" ("le Déjeuner sur l'herbe") and "Olympia" he was one of the first to break with official art. His style and his technique shocked just as much as his subject matter; he abandoned the customary gradation of colours, preferring brutal contrasts between light and shade. He was criticized for his "mania for seeing in blocks", but his modernity was championed by some of his contemporaries, with Zola at their head.