"The Lunch on the Grass is a painting with several overlaid themes:
- the reference to the old masters, Manet having taken his inspiration from Titian's Concert champêtre in the Musée du Louvre, and from The Judgement of Paris, an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, after Raphael.
- the issue of the nude, "It seems I'll have to paint a nude. Very well then, I'll paint a nude for them", Manet had declared to Antonin Proust.
- the question of the subject, the reason for all the uproar surrounding it. "We cannot regard as chaste a work in which a woman, seated in the woods, surrounded by students in berets and coats, is clothed only in the shadows of the leaves" (Ernest Chesneau, quoted by Françoise Cachin in Manet, RMN, 1983).
- finally, the issue of the outdoor setting: the real open air, according to Emile Zola,
"In this painting, what one must see […] is the entire landscape, full of atmosphere, this corner of nature rendered with a simplicity so accurate…". "In this painting, what one must see […] is the entire landscape, full of atmosphere, this corner of nature rendered with a simplicity so accurate...""
The sight of these contemporary people, especially a naked woman, being exhibited next to nudes that was mythological thus very far from touch was outrageous.
Picasso repeated the scandal with his versions of Manet's painting. I truly believe that one of thousands art's functions is to change the way we see things and it is funny to see that these paintings today are considered part of cultural heritage and we can even think that Manet's nude woman is a little bit overweighted.