Edouard Manet (1832-1883) is one of the most influential and paradoxical of artists. He was enthralled by the art of the past but is widely regarded as the first great modernist painter; he craved success and social status but painted provocative, puzzling and confrontational pictures of the society in which he lived. He worked at a time when Paris was rapidly changing and his main aim was to represent the experience of modern life. In so doing he produced some of the most widely admired paintings of the nineteenth century, including his stunning depiction of A Bar at the Folies Bergères in the Courtauld institute. The lecture looks at his work in the contexts of his friendships, his rivalries, his environment and his family. It concludes with a review of his admirers and of his importance within the history of modern art.

Barry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon's Art & Ideas series, and several catalogue essays for exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland. He was the BBC's script consultant on Turner's Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in a BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution. He has also published a study of John Constable's paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art. He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society, Christie's Education and other organisations.