Christ Scourged, Detail
Edouard Manet, 1865
Oil on Canvas
74 7/8 x 58 3/8 inches
Photo by RJ Molyneux-Davis, 2009
Discussion: Olympia and Christ Scourged must be viewed as pendant pieces to be fully appreciated. Although the subject matter differs substantially on Jesus Mocked and Olympia, we see similar canvas sizes and tonal values on these complimentary pieces. Driskel in “Naturalism and the Politics of Christian Art” likewise argues that the spirituality of Manet’s paintings cannot be overlooked and that his Christ Scourged and Olympia, like The Dead Christ with Angels and The Dead Toreador, must be viewed as pendant pieces to be fully appreciated, stating critics “tend to relegate the religious half of this visual dyad to the position of a footnote,” noting that Manet’s Christ more closely resembles what was identified as the Republican Christ (14). Le Christ Républicain, a pamphlet issued in June of 1848 describes him thusly: “The republican Christ is the God of the poor and of the worker, the God of the oppressed…the God of this new class that one denies, that one steals from, that one calumnies atrociously and calls vulgar or plebian” (rpt in Driskel 51). Manet’s Christ, covered with what had been identified as soot, would have been a “God of the oppressed,” a figure which, led by a prostitute, would have been likely to have joined in a revolution against the oppression of the bourgeoisie. Although Driskel argues that the pieces are pendant, he spends little time analyzing the secondary work of this visual dyad.