Around the time Meurent began formal training in the 1870's, she and Manet parted ways. Her life after that was emblematic of what often happened to young female artists in the nineteenth century. By the 1880's, she had fallen on hard times. A series of love affairs ended badly and made her the target of unflattering gossip. As a result, Manet and his circle shunned her. After his death, she appealed to his widow for financial aid, citing a promise Manet made to share the proceeds from paintings where she had modeled. Mme. Manet refused.
From the 1890's until the end of her life, Meurent moved from place to place, painted when she could, suffered from alcoholism and lived in poverty. At one point, in an attempt to capitalize on her notoriety as a way to sell paintings, she printed business cards with the words: I am Olympia.
Only one painting of Meurent's own work has survived: Les Rameaux/The branches (1885). It sold to a private collector in 2004. Her most enduring identity, therefore, is the one that Manet created. History remembers her, like many female artists of the nineteenth century, as the object of the artist rather than the artist herself.