The Veneer

Four handmade, clay oranges are placed in a bowl. White background.
The Veneer. Elizabeth, age 18. Reworking Manet Exhibition 2023 The Courtauld. Image credit Finn Arschavir and Tasmiya Tasmi.

Elizabeth, age 18

Clay, acrylic paint, glass bowl

I have recreated the oranges on the bar; in Manet’s painting they represent commercial development. Previously, oranges, scarce and expensive, had been a symbol of wealth. New technology made luxuries cheaper and more readily available to ordinary people. I think Manet felt disillusioned with this; Suzon’s expression reflects his own feelings. He is lonely, dying, and unhappy. The material wealth around him is no comfort. In our own time, we are told by advertisements that we can buy away our problems, which is not true. While my oranges initially look tasty and fresh, they have little imperfections. Not even real, they will not give the pleasure they promise, leaving you wanting more, something better. They are a veneer.