I like the style of the impressionists, but I find a lot of their material insipid. Too many water lilies and boating parties. So of course I like Édouard Manet (1832-1883) better than any other painter of that era -- he could paint a sunny boating party when he wanted to, but he could also work in a much darker mode. Manet knew the impressionists, influenced and was influenced by them, and painted portraits of two of them, but he never considered himself an impressionist. Above, Dead Toreador, 1864. You often see jpegs of this painting that are nearly black and white, but so far as I can tell the original is more brown.
Actually I find Manet's work uneven, some of it downright clumsy. But his best paintings linger in my mind like afterimages of a blinding flash. Olympia, 1863. This is a portrait of Manet's favorite model in those years, Victorine Louise Meurent (1844-1885). Meurent had a good run for a while as a mistress of rich men and painters' model, but then she slipped into alcoholism, poverty, and an early death.
A Sea Fight, 1868. This looks a lot like his earlier painting of the battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge, off Cherbourg, in 1864, so I suppose it was in some sense inspired by that famous battle. Manet had a huge range, from sunny boating parties to political propaganda to heroic depictions of naval warfare.
Monsieur and Madame Auguste Manet (the Artists' Parents), 1860. They look like parents, with those parental worry lines.
A Vase of Peonies on a Small Pedestal, 1864.
Portrait of Alphonse Maureau, 1868. When men were serious about mustaches.
Effect of Snow on Petit-Montrouge, 1870. I find this charming, and it doesn't look much like anything else I have seen of his.
The Barricade (Civil War), 1871. One of Manet's responses to the ordeal of the Paris Commune.
Portrait of Monsieur Tillet, 1871.
The Port of Bordeaux, 1871.
The Viennese (Portrait of Irma Brunner), 1880. I love this painting, which rather sadly is hidden in a corner of the Louvre where nobody ever notices it. Honestly, the Louvre should just give away nine-tenths of their paintings so it would possible to tour the place without going mad.
The Escape of Rochefort, 1882. Manet painted this scene at least twice. Rochefort was Henri de Rochefort, Marquis de Rochefort Lucay, an aristocrat who became one of the leaders of the insurrection by the Paris Commune. After the Commune fell he was tried by a military tribunal and sentenced to life at hard labor on the jungle island of New Caledonia. Nothing daunted, he and six other convicts escaped in a whale boat just four months later. He made his way back to Europe and lived in Geneva and London until a left wing government came to power and declared an amnesty for all the communards. He then returned to Paris and embarked on a new career as a conservative agitator; his newspaper, L'Intransigiant, was a mainstay of the anti-Dreyfusards.
House in Rueil, 1882.
A Bar at the Folies Bergère, 1882. Manet's last famous painting, summing up for many the ennui of the drinking life.