The Railway


The Railway, 1873
…douard Manet, French, 1832 - 1883
Oil on canvas, 93.3 x 111.5 cm (36 3/4 x 43 7/8 in.)
Inscription: lower right: Manet / 1873
Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer, NGA 1956.10.1

(From the museum website)
"The Railway
is among Manetís most beautiful and enigmatic paintings. A thoroughly modern image, it confounds traditional expectations about subject and narrative in order to present a new and dynamic vision of the contemporary city."

The railroad, with its powerful steam engines, became a fascination for many Impressionist artists.

It's hard to imagine now, but this painting caused quite the furor when it first appeared in the Salon. "One of the first cartoons to appear, drawn by Cham for the comic journal Le Charivari, called the picture The Lady with a Seal. The caption commented, 'The poor things, seeing themselves painted like this, have tried to escape! In anticipation, he has put in a railing that cuts off all possibiity of retreat.'"
- Manet, Monet, & the Gare St Lazare, by Juliet Wilson Bareau, (Yale University Press, 1998), page 50