Ross King wonderfully contrasts the rise of Impressionism with the fall of the Academician. With the Salon as the battleground, we meet Monet and Manet, Cezzane and Courbet as art world slowly changes. With beautiful images and lively scenes, this is a fantastic read for art history lovers.
This book is essentially a dual biography of Meissonier, the "traditional" French artist, best known for his history paintings, and the path-breaking Manet, who influenced the Impressionists. King is a great writer and he obviously did a prodigious amount of research in writing this book. However, I think he tried to do too much and should have focussed just on Meissonier and Manet, instead of including so much French history and giving us so many short sketches of politicians and other artists. I also think that a rudimentary knowledge of French is necessary to fully appreciate this book, since King sprinkles French throughout the book but defines nothing. I read and enjoyed the first 100 pages, but then got bored and distracted and skimmed the rest. I enjoyed "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" much more.
Well written and insightful book about the emergence of Impressionism in context of European history. Going beyond regular art history, this book gives the conditions and mise–en–scène of the times tying the politics, wars and personalities that brought revolutionary changes in the art world that matched revolutionary times in Western history.
this is a book to love if you're into art and the Impressionists. Gives the history of the movement and the people - especially the art politics as well as the history that shapes the times.
This book was returned last week
If you like art, history and travel then Ross King has it all wrapped up in one volume. This book transports you to France in the late 19th century and to the art and artists that gave rise to impressionism. Fascinating, compeling. I suggest you also take out an art book on the period with lots of plates so you can see the paintings about which he writes!
"The Paris art world went from celebrating large historical canvases in shades of brown and gray to those featuring riots of color in the decade that King covers so well. Sample factoid: Manet couldn't give away his paintings (any one of which will now cost you in excess of $45 million)."
Top Ten Books of 2010: John McFarland, reviewer
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