What accounts for Baudelaire’s unique status amongst art critics in nineteenth-century France? The categories he brings to his discussion of contemporary painting? Key concepts like modernity and the relativity of beauty are already in Stendhal, whom Baudelaire cites readily and plagiarizes just as readily. The colour/line dichotomy, with its philosophical as well as its aesthetic implications, preoccupied all of Baudelaire’s contemporaries and reflects an on-going controversy in art history since the Renaissance, a controversy which pitted the Venetians against Raphael, Rubens against Poussin, Delacroix against Ingres. His grasp of technical issues? Baudelaire is at pains to avoid technicalities as being out of place in criticism as he understands it. His grasp of such issues was, one suspects, more considerable than his reticence suggests but does not bear comparison with that of Charles Blanc, for example, who was more important than Baudelaire in opening the eyes of other painters to the technical aspects of Delacroix’s colourism but is no longer read except by historians of art theory. 1 The acuity of Baudelaire’s judgement about the importance of Delacroix? Baudelaire was convinced that the future of European art, if it had one, lay in the emancipation of colour, but his views, in this respect, are not as proto-impressionist as is sometimes imagined. He was not prepared for the emancipation of colour to be carried to the point where compositional values were eroded, and his hero-worship of Delacroix blinded him, in the Salon de 1859, to contemporary developments in French landscape painting, as it blinded him to the 1 29importance of Manet. 2 In terms of critical acuity, Baudelaire’s letter to Manet of 11 May 1865 and his cool reception of the Olympia take some explaining (Corr2, 496-7). And it is neither Delacroix nor Manet but a minor illustrator of worldly life, Constantin Guys, whom Baudelaire elevates to the title, declared vacant in 1846, of ‘peintre de la vie moderne’— the painter who has finally opened his eyes to the bizarre beauty of modern city life and who no doubt helped an ageing and increasingly reactionary Baudelaire revive his enthusiasm for modernity and become reconciled aesthetically, though not politically, with the life-style of the Second Empire.