Manet by Himself offers a unique opportunity to grasp the essential unity of the art and life of Edouard Manet, recognized as the most important avant-garde artist of his generation and the leader of the group which became known as the Impressionists. While Manet's critics called him "inconsistent", he himself saw the great diversity of his art as its greatest strength, since it reflected the spontaneity and force of his responses to the world about him. He was well aware of the radical nature of his art and always insisted it had to be seen "whole". His earliest letters, written to his parents before he became an art student, already betray his acute powers of observation as well as his commitment to radical, liberal views which were to be one of the driving forces in the art of this elegant bourgeois. The views of this very Parisian artist were expressed above all in conversation, and he wrote mainly when separated from friends or family. Both correspondence and recorded conversation vividly convey the hope and fears, the successes and disappointments of this most mercurial of artistic temperaments. Accompanying the text are superb color reproductions including many of the artist's most famous paintings, from the early Salon pictures which caused such public outcry to his last great masterpiece, the Bar at the Folies-Bergére, at the Salon of 1882. In addition, there are many works, often little-known, from non-lending institutions and private collections, as well some of the works submitted to the annual Paris Salon.