Gustave-Adolphe Koëlla - Versunken, verdorret, verklungen G.-A. Koëlla - Heinrich Heine

Paula Bär-Giese - soprano & pianist


Manet painted Léon Koëlla,  son of Gustave-Adolphe Koëlla & Suzanne Manet-Leenhoff to adulthood.

The Dutch author Thera Coppens found Léon’s birth certificate with the name of Koëlla as the father.


It is thought that Suzanne Leenhoff first got to know the Manets, a rich, upper-middle-class Parisian family, when she was hired in 1849 to give piano lessons to the 17-year-old Edouard and his 16-year-old brother Eugène.

In 1852, by which time Manet was studying to be an artist, Suzanne gave birth to a son, Léon. She cited the father’s name as Koëlla on Léon’s birth certificate and Manet was made godfather at his baptism.

Suzanne set up home, a short walk from the Manets’ flat, with her grandmother, and later, her two younger brothers. Léon she introduced to the world as her youngest brother and insisted this was the case throughout her subsequent marriage to Manet, which took place when Léon was 11 in 1863. Only shortly before her death in 1906, did she legally acknowledge him as her son to ensure he could inherit.

Manet painted Léon from early childhood through to adulthood; from the adorable, Velázquez-esque Boy with a Sword of 1861 to the elegant young man in 1871’s Interior at Arcachon (again showing at the RA). But, sadly, Léon, more than any of Manet’s models, seems devoid of personality in his stepfather’s pictures.

Thera Coppens geeft een uitleg over G. -A. Koëlla in het radioprogramma Opium op 4 d.d. 30 maart 2015

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