Philadelphia hosts Manet exhibit

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PHILADELPHIA -- The "Manet and the Sea" exhibition, showing through May 31 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a perfect excuse to spend a couple of days touring this historic city.

The exhibition, which moves on to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in June, is the first to explore the marine paintings of Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and his contemporaries.

Manet, best known for his portraits and still-lifes, began painting the sea and seascapes in an era that saw the emergence of beach vacations among France's affluent inlanders.

The exhibition, which hosts nearly 100 paintings, drawings and watercolors -- 42 by Manet -- and includes works by Monet and Renoir, explores the connections among these artists and addresses the development of seaside tourism and its contribution to the popularity of French marine painting during this period.

Ask for an audio headset on the way in and visit the gift shop on the way out. Posters of the painters' works can be purchased for $16; $42 framed. I bought a framed print of Manet's "On the Beach at Boulogne" for $36, about as much as I paid for two children's T-shirts in the historic Bourse, now a retail mall and food court, further downtown.

Packages that include an overnight for two and VIP tickets are available at these hotels:

• Best Western Center City, $135 with parking; (215) 568-8300; www.bestwestern.com/centercityhotel.

• Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, $159 weekends; (215) 496-3200, www.marriott.com.

• Doubletree Hotel Philadelphia, $189 weekdays, $199 weekends; includes breakfast for two and parking; (215) 893-1600, www.doubletree.com.

• Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, $340 weekends with parking; (215) 963-1500, www.fourseasons.com.

• The Latham Hotel, $169 weekdays or weekends; includes breakfast for two; (215) 563-7474, www.lathamhotel.com.

• Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, $179 weekends; (215) 625-2900, www.marriott.com.

• Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel; $185 weekdays, $215 weekends; includes choice of free parking, breakfast for two or upgrade; (215) 735-6000; www.radisson.com/philadelphiapa.

• Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia; $329 weekdays, $299 weekends, plus parking; (215) 523-8000; www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/philadelphia.

For more information on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, visit www.philamuseum.org.

To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].

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