Made a timely visit to the Manet last week. I am starting 4 portrait commissions over the next month, including a family group, two children, and what will probably be a half-length seated portrait. There were few of Manet’s great works on display (Olympia, the original Dejeuner sur l’herbe, the Fifer Boy etc) but there is such immediacy to his portraits, many of which are of friends and family, that it’s almost more useful to an artist than seeing finished work. Thanks to friends’ membership we went in early and avoided the crowds. The exhibition had a bad press from one or two people I had spoken to (too crowded, too many figures in black ), but I have come out fired up for portraiture. I particulary love his Mallarme, and Mme Manet at the piano. I may need to start borrowing people again….