The Judgement of Paris : The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, Paperback

The Judgement of Paris : The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


In 1863, the French painter Ernest Meissonier was one of the most famous artists in the world and the darling of the 'Salon' - that all important public art exhibition held biannually in Paris. Manet, on the other hand, was struggling in obscurity.

Beginning with the year that Manet exhibited his ground-breaking Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe and ending in 1974 with the first 'Impressionist' exhibition, Ross King plunges into Parisian life during a ten-year period full of social and political ferment with his usual narrative brillliance.

These were the years in which Napoleon III's autocratic and pleasure-seeking Second Empire fell from its heights into the ignominy of the Franco-Prussian war and the ensuing Paris Commune of 1871.

But it was also a period in which a group of artists, with Manet in the vanguard began to challenge the establishment by turning to the landscapes and ordinary people they saw around them.

The struggle between Meissonier and Manet to get their paintings exhibited in pride of place at the Salon was not just about art, it was about how to see the world.




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What a fine Judgement!This book is really interesting and it's very difficult to lay it down before the last page is actually read! The detailed (but never boring) description of the lives and works of two French painters (Messonier and Manet) during the 1860-1870's forms the central stage of a much larger play in which the turbulent development of art during that period in Paris (and with Paris then being the artistic center of the world, the art world at large) is fascinatingly unveiled. The concept of zooming in on two opposite and interesting contemporaries to tell a larger story of the period at hand really works well. I'll certainly be keeping titles by Ross King in mind for further reading.