Eva Gonzalès - Nanny and Child [1877-78]

Eva Gonzalès (French, 1849 - 1883) was the only formal pupil Manet ever had, he was notoriously ill-disposed toward taking on students. Her painting of a nanny and her young charge, the first facing the viewer, the second turned toward a barred gate, is an unmistakable homage to Manet's The Railway. Her brushwork is similarly broad and energetic; it eliminates transitional tones and detail. Nevertheless, Gonzalès' painting feels different. Its open airiness contrasts with The Railway's restricted and compressed space.

Gonzalès was part of the impressionist circle in Paris, one of only four women generally associated with the group. She shared their interest in depicting modern life, although, like Manet, she did not join in the impressionists' exhibitions. This painting was shown at the Salon of 1878 and is perhaps her most accomplished work. Her family was a distinguished one. Her father was a well-known writer and her mother a musician, both of whom fostered her interest in the arts. This canvas was probably made in Dieppe, in Normandy. As the closest seaside resort to Paris, with a promenade, pebble beach, and casino, Dieppe was popular with well-to-do tourists who came for the season. The English nanny (Gonzalès' original title was Miss et bébé) is a sure mark of upper-class status.

[Oil on canvas, 65 x 81.4 cm]