Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883)
Oil on canvas
58 x 45 in. (147.3 x 114.3 cm)
Signed and dated (right, on bench): ed. Manet 1860
Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.2)
Manet's painting reflects the vogue in Paris for the art and culture of Spain during the Second Empire, as well as the artist's own preoccupation with Spanish themes in the 1860s. The Spanish Singer won Manet his first critical and popular success in his debut at the Salon of 1861. He composed the work in his studio using a model and props; the singer's broad-brimmed hat and bolero jacket were worn again by Victorine Meurent when she posed for the 1862 canvas Mademoiselle V . . . in the Costume of an Espada (29.100.53).
The Spanish Singer inspired a group of young artists, among them Henri Fantin-Latour and Carolus-Duran, to make a pilgrimage to Manet's studio, helping to establish him as a leader of the avant-garde.