Édouard Manet, Young Lady in 1866 (1866)
Where can I see it? The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Victorine Meurent, the model for this painting, also appears in Manet’s notorious Olympia and Luncheon on the Grass, in which her nudity raised critical eyebrows and earned the artist a bad-boy reputation. Here she wears a long silk dressing gown, but commentators of the time were still rankled, slamming Manet for paying more attention to the figure’s apparel than her face or form. Young Lady was widely regarded as a response to Gustave Courbet’s Woman with a Parrot of the same year, and while the mood is diametrically opposed, it does seem to reproduce some of the Realist painter’s stylistic traits. More recent observers have suggested that the painting might be an allegory for the five senses, with the (perhaps talkative) parrot standing in for hearing.
Photograph: Courtesy Museum of Modern Art