• Manet, Édouard - Autograph Letter about Le Bon-Bock

Manet, Édouard - Autograph Letter about Le Bon-Bock

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Autograph letter from the French painter to the influential French art critic Philippe Burty (1830-1890) who coined the term Japonisme to describe the study of Japanese art, history, and culture. NP. ND.
Translated from the French: "My Dear Burty, I have no copies of the album in question. I hope to find on Wednesday when at...like the foundation of the Bon Bock society. There is a monthly bon-Bock dinner on Thursday by the greatness of Bellot regarding the business of this album. In friendship, Ed. Manet."  1 page, mounted to a larger sheet, in fine condition. 4.25 x 6.75 inches (11 x 17 cm); framed: 6 x 8.5 inches (15.5 x 22 cm).

“Le Bon-Bock” was a monthly dinner of artists and men of letters, who gathered in Paris for good food, good company, and artistic performances, from 1875 to at least 1925, founded by author, designer and publisher Emile Bellot (French, 1831 – 1886), the Parisian artist and engraver mentioned in the present letter. It was also he who published albums at least from 1875 to 1885 commemorating the annual group of dinners and reproducing together all of the monthly invitations (with musical and other contributions) produced by the attending artists. These were produced in very limited editions of no more than 500 copies, a fact suggested here in Manet's apparent inability to get one for Burty.

The name “Le Bon-Bock” means “The Good Bock”, whilst Bock is a kind of beer, a dark, malty, lightly hopped ale. The dinner was named “Le Bon-Bock” in honour of the Édouard Manet painting (1873), a famous portrait of Emile Bellot, called “Le Bon-Bock,” a vivid depiction of the drinker recalling the animated portraits by seventeenth-century Dutch masters like Frans Hals that Manet greatly admired. "In 1872 Edouard Manet traveled to Holland, and the trip reinvigorated his longstanding appreciation of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting. At the Paris Salon the following year he showed this lively picture of a man enjoying his bock, or springtime beer, that is directly influenced by such images. The warm tonalities and lively handling of paint particularly recall the work of Frans Hals. The painting was well received at the Salon, where the evocation of old master painting styles was much appreciated. This work also presented few of those surprising disjunctions of color to which conventional critics of Manet often reacted violently. Manet’s model, who endured more than sixty sittings, was a neighbor of the artist named Bellot." Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 194.