Manet portraits head for London's Royal Academy

Portrait of M. Antonin Proust. 1880 by Edouard Manet Manet's 1880 portrait of Antonin Proust will be one of more than 50 paintings on show

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French painter Edouard Manet's portraits will be showcased in a major exhibition at London's Royal Academy next year.

The retrospective is the first of its kind in the UK and is expected to be one of 2013's exhibition highlights.

More than 50 paintings spanning Manet's career have been collected from around the world, from both public collections and private owners.

They include famous images such as The Railway and Mademoiselle Claus.

Manet: Portraying Life will feature the 19th-Century French painter's "great works" alongside lesser known pieces.

The show's curator, MaryAnne Stevens, has also promised "quite a lot of surprises" when the show opens in January.

Stevens said that Manet's portraits have "not been studied in either exhibition or book form" before, despite the artist's "unswerving commitment to the genre of portraiture throughout his career".

Throughout his life Manet surrounded himself with a wide circle of friends and admirers, including leading figures from the artistic, literary and musical communities.

The latter often served as sitters for his portraits, along with his family.

Edouard Manet

  • Born 1832 in Paris, France
  • Regarded as one of the founders of modern art
  • His radical ideas earned him a reputation as a revolutionary

The exhibition will examine the relationship between Manet's portrait painting and his scenes of modern life, with different sections focusing on elements such as family, artist friends and "status portraits" of such figures as the politicians Henri Rochefort and Antonin Proust.

Other highlights include The Luncheon, on loan from the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, which depicts Leon, the son of Manet's wife.

Manet's professional career as an artist lasted less than three decades and was cut short by his premature death in 1883 at the age of 51.

The Royal Academy will stage the exhibition - a collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio - from 26 January to 14 April.

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