In 1848, Manet boarded a Navy vessel headed for Brazil; his father hoped he might take to a seafaring life. Manet returned in 1849 and promptly failed his naval examinations. He repeatedly failed over the course of a decade, so his parents finally gave in and supported his dream of attending art school.
At age 18, Manet began studying under Thomas Couture, learning the basics of drawing and painting. For several years, Manet would steal away to the Louvre and sit for hours copying the works of the old masters. From 1853 to 1856, he traveled through Italy, Germany and Holland to take in the brilliance of several admired painters, notably Frans Hals, Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya.
For his painting "Concert in the Tuileries Gardens", sometimes called "Music in the Tuileries," Manet set up his easel in the open air and stood for hours while he composed a fashionable crowd of city dwellers. When he showed the painting, some thought it was unfinished, while others understood what he was trying to convey. Perhaps his most famous painting is "The Luncheon on the Grass," which he completed and exhibited in 1863. The scene of two young men dressed and sitting alongside a female nude alarmed several of the jury members making selections for the annual Paris Salon, the official exhibit hosted by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Due to its perceived indecency, they refused to show it. Manet was not alone, though, as more than 4,000 paintings were denied entry that year. In response, Napoleon III established the Salon des Refusés to exhibit some of those rejected works, including Manet’s submission.