Amputations and Convalescence: Recuperating the Body in Manet's Later Work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemerapeer-review


This paper examines Édouard Manet’s (1832-1883) portrayal of bodily injury and recovery in experimental works executed at the end of his artistic career. Bringing art history into conversation with medical history, this project considers how new approaches to medical treatment and illustration in the later nineteenth century inform Manet’s own engagement with the human form. This paper argues that Manet became more preoccupied with the limitations of the human body, both as a subject and an instrument, in the final decade of his career, a moment when the artist himself was suffering from the debilitating effects of syphilis. Looking to two principal works, Manet’s ink drawing, “A Man with Crutches” (1878) and his engraving, “The Convalescent,” (c. 1879), this paper explores how the artist negotiated notions of disease and disability in his portrayal of modern life. Rather than merely arguing that Manet’s syphilitic condition can be read through these works, I suggest that Manet’s personal confrontation with disease, recuperation, and public health informed a broader desire to re-envision the human body at the end of his artistic career. This paper will draw on contemporary accounts of medical practice and public health reform to further contextualise Manet’s later work
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023
EventThe 18th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine: Second Opinions - University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 12 Jul 202314 Jul 2023


ConferenceThe 18th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine

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