1. Edouard Manet
The Railway, 1873
oil on canvas
44 1/2 x 52 1/4 x 2 1/8 in.
Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer
On View: West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 89
2. But then we look again at those implacable railings, dividing and ruling the rectangle, pressing everything up to the picture surface. Surfaces are too easily organized, that is the trouble with modern mobility and anonymity. ...Steam is this painting's great subject, clearly; and how people relate to steam, how they face it or do not face it; how they turn to face us. It does not take much ingenuity to see that steam in the Manet is a metaphor for a general, maybe constitutive, instability--for things in modernity incessantly changing their shape, hurrying forward, dispersing, and growing impalpable. ...But steam in Le Chemin defer is also a figure for that shifting and impalpability getting into the texture of life. Steam is a metaphor for appearance, and appearances here being transitory, and for some reason also thoroughly guarded.