Édouard Manet, Street singer, 1862 Édouard Manet, Young Lady in 1866
Victorine-Louise Meurent was born in Paris (1844) to a family of artisans.In 1860, at the age of sixteen, Meurent began modeling in the studio of Thomas Couture and she may have studied art at his atelier for women.
Meurent first modeled for Manet in 1862, for his painting The Street Singer. Manet was first drawn to Meurent when he saw her in the street, carrying her guitar. She was particularly noticeable for her petite stature that earned her the nickname La Crevette (The Shrimp), and for her red hair, which is depicted as very bright in Manet’s watercolor copy of Olympia.
Meurent’s name remains forever associated with Manet’s masterpieces of 1863, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) and Olympia, which feature nude portrayals of her. At that time, she also modeled for Edgar Degas and the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens, both of whom were close friends of Manet’s.
In 1875, Meurent began studying with the portraitist Étienne Leroy. The following year, Meurent first submitted work of her own to the Salon and it was accepted. Manet’s own submissions were rejected by the jury that year.
Meurent’s entry at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1879 was hung in the same room as the entry by Manet. Work by Meurent was included in the 1885 and 1904 exhibitions as well. In all, Meurent exhibited in the Salon six times. She also continued to support herself by modeling through the 1880s for Norbert Goeneutte, an artist best known for his etchings, and for Toulouse-Lautrec.