Family money plays a great role in the art of the nineteenth century. Moderate family allowances enabled Corot and Cézanne to leave behind the marketplaces of Parisian art and paint their unsalable paintings; and Van Gogh’s bouquets, orchards, and fields would probably never have come into being were it not for brother Theo’s support, which was partly emotional, but which would have been meaningless if it had not also been financial. Édouard Manet, backed by a large family fortune, had no pressing financial motive for catering to contemporary taste, but he did not really use his money, as did Corot and Cézanne, to buy freedom from the pressures of the Parisian art world. For Manet, family money meant that he could paint as he wished and regard the politics and machinations with a certain equanimity—he didn’t need to live off sales. But it also meant that he could conduct himself as the artist in...

 

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