Astro-Notes on Edouard Manet: A genius (Sun Aquarius) in Art (Libra Moon)
by Jude Cowell
As you know, it's common in Natal Astrology that studying the natal horoscopes of long-ago figures, no matter how prominent, is frustrated by the fact that no exact birth time is known and often 'noon' is chosen to set up their charts but without the input of a correct Ascendant (Self) and Midheaven (The Goal). Plus, knowing a correct birth time allows the placement of natal planets in their houses (departments of life) so obviously, these two chart angles are important for gaining a fuller picture of the native.
Well, fortunately, this is not an issue with the natal horoscope of the artist many historians have called, "the first modern painter," Edouard Manet for his birth data is rated AA for accuracy! Follow the link for a view of his natal chart if you wish but a few details are included below concerning Manet's double Air Sun Aquarius-Moon Libra personality blend. Now many moons ago when I attended art school in Atlanta, Georgia, Manet was a favorite artist of mine so this post is a labor of love and curiosity!
Edouard Manet born January 23, 1832 7:00 pm LMT Paris, France to a prominent family and under the influence of Sun Aquarius-Moon Libra, an intellectual, cultured, and independent blend of energies (Saturn-Uranus; Venus). In fact, this blend's airiness can tend the native toward an overly abstract approach to life, if not to Art. As you know, Manet has been termed "the first modern painter" and counted several Impressionist painters among his friends. Developing the all prima painting technique ('all at once' - wet layers of paint applied upon wet layers), Manet is also known as "a genius of modern art" which can be seen by his Sun and Uranus in Aquarius! His "innovative realist" style of painting is identifiable via his Aquarian Uranus, the genius and innovator, and natal Saturn, planet of realism, in the practical workaholic sign of Mercury-ruled Virgo.
For as you know, Uranian genius needs a Saturnian vessel to pour into otherwise ideas remain without practical application in the real world and expression of this ability depends upon the aspect between the two planets. In Manet's natal chart we find a Saturn-Uranus inconjunct which suggests a resistance to change so it took some attitude adjustments before he could adopt new techniques in his work. Plus, this inconjunct can lead to conflict in relationships as well and hints that others could 'see' or appreciate his talents more clearly than he could - at least early on in his career.
And regretfully I must add that a Saturn-Uranus inconjunct (or, quincunx; 150 degrees) can denote the development of arthritis and/or a "sudden loss of limbs/amputation" (Ebertin) - and Manet suffered both!
For on August 30, 1883, at age 51, he died from rheumatism and untreated syphilis contracted during his 40s (natal Moon conjunct Lilith, the seductress). Sadly his final years were spent partially paralyzed and, as we can see from his age at death (51), Manet's Chiron in Taurus (in Astrology the Christ archetype of the Wounded Healer, often depicted as lame) may have been involved since he expired only 11 days after his left foot was amputated due to gangrene.
Further more, it's worth noting that the orbit of centaur Chiron (approximately 50 years in duration) passes between the orbits of planets Saturn and Uranus which symbolically forms a bridge between our earthly and spiritual natures!
And this creates an uplifting note on which to close this astro-tribute to one of my favorite artists of all time, and provides a chance for me to say, May Edouard Manet R.I.P.
For more information, here are biographical notes on Edouard Manet including a few views of his paintings, plus, the Royal Academy of Arts recently published an don't-miss video presentation of Manet: Portraying Life.