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The Judgement of Paris by Ross King
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The Judgement of Paris

by Ross King

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6921513,753 (3.95)32
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  1. 10
    The Masterpiece by Émile Zola (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Roman oder Sachbuch. Obwohl das Sachbuch von Ross King wirklich gut und lebendig geschrieben ist: noch besser, um das "Entstehen der modernen Malerei" und die Menschen dahinter zu verstehen, ist der Roman von Emile Zola. Ross King bezieht sich im übrigen auf Zola als Quelle.… (more)
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The decade between 1863 and 1873 marked the beginning of Impressionism in France. This book covers that period, focusing mainly on Ernest Meissonier and Edouard Manet and the struggles and successes they had both commercially and critically. Interspersed are the repercussions on Art of the Franco-Prussian war and the Commune. A great history of the time, although it seems to fall apart at the end, as though the author wasn't sure how to end it. ( )
  tloeffler | Mar 29, 2014 |
Human beings have been painting since they first figured how to create pigments in caves. For every painter, there’s a unique way to painting something, but the world of 19th century France didn’t see it that way. They had strict rules for what was considered good painting and what didn’t pass muster. Ross King’s Judgment of Paris recounts the ten years that led to the first modern schism in the art world. On one side was the Salon de Paris, championed by Ernest Messonier, and the other were the Impressionists, founded by a scrappy, radical artist known as Eduard Manet.

The Judgment of Paris chronicles the parallel lives of Messonier and Manet to show how one railed against change and how the other helped to show the world a different way to look at itself. Manet’s movement started with treating everyday people as grand subjects for paintings. Up until then, the Salon de Paris standardized the techniques and subjects allowed for what was considered “high art” and the common folk were considered declasse. Manet, along with Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet, decided that, after having been rejected time and time again by the Salon de Paris, that they should establish their own Salon—the Salon des Refuses (The Salon of the Refused).

While this could be considered a tad petulent, it allowed the public to see the new movement in art. Instead of allowing line, contour, and historical grandiosity dominate the picture, the Impressionists focused on light, color, and atmosphere. Nowadays, this seems rather trivial, but in the 1860s, this was enough to cause a public outrage.

King’s writing is fun and moves along at a decent clip, much in the current style of history-as-a-novel. There are times where he gets very involved in the details of Parisian living, but its add atmosphere to help flesh out the intricate art happenings. Also, it’s a good way to get in backdoor info on the French authors Zola, Hugo, and Baudelaire. My only gripe about the book is that it needed more color illustrations. King’s descriptions are one thing, but having the paintings at hand really helps to get the history across.

Also, I used to consider myself fairly knowledgable about art and art history. Once, on a family vacation to Rome, my parent gave me my own day to plan out and go to whatever I wanted. I chose to do a walking tour of the city to find many of the public sculptures of Gian Bernini and end the day at the Vatican Pinacoteca to view Caravaggio’s Entombment of Christ (it was stunning). Until this book, I had never heard of Messonier or his fight againt the Impressionist movement. I guess you really do learn something new every day. ( )
1 vote NielsenGW | Feb 11, 2013 |
While the Civil War raged in America, another very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris: The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amidst scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial. The drama of its birth, played out on canvas, would at times resemble a battlefield; and, as Ross King reveals, Impressionism would reorder both history and culture as it resonated around the world.

The Judgment of Paris chronicles the dramatic decade between two famous exhibitions--the scandalous Salon des Refuses in 1863 and the first Impressionist showing in 1874--set against the rise and dramatic fall of Napoleon III and the Second Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. A tale of many artists, it revolves around the lives of two, described as "the two poles of art"--Ernest Meissonier, the most famous and successful painter of the 19th century, hailed for his precision and devotion to history; and Edouard Manet, reviled in his time, who nonetheless heralded the most radical change in the history of art since the Renaissance. Out of the fascinating story of their parallel lives, illuminated by their legendary supporters and critics--Zola, Delacroix, Courbet, Baudelaire, Whistler, Monet, Hugo, Degas, and many more--Ross King shows that their contest was not just about Art, it was about competing visions of a rapidly changing world.

With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and a revolutionary movement had the power to electrify and divide a nation.
1 vote rossah | Jun 30, 2012 |
To be honest, this book is not as good as it should be. Its a good snapshot of the early years of Manet, the prime years of Meissonier and some engaging gossip about the Paris Salons of the 1870s. But at the end of it I was really none the wiser as to how and why Impressionism came to be - plein air painting does not automatically lead to Impressionism. And I am even less clear on why Meissonier went from the most famous artist of his day to a footnote in the annals of Art History. Yes, fashions change but there must be more to it than that.
So overall this is a an interesting and amusing narrative but could have done with more contextual discussion. I was left unsatisfied ( )
  Opinionated | Jan 28, 2012 |
My second read of this book. (first about a year ago) Ross King is an excellent story teller; you can see Paris of the 19th century, you can feel the hardship, despair and the exhilaration of the artists...you critique the critics and silently affirm those who recognize the extraordinary artistic expression that would come to be known as "impressionism." Hard to put down. ( )
  tomcincinnatus | May 25, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802714668, Hardcover)

While the Civil War raged in America, another very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris: The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amidst scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial. The drama of its birth, played out on canvas, would at times resemble a battlefield; and, as Ross King reveals, Impressionism would reorder both history and culture as it resonated around the world.

The Judgment of Paris chronicles the dramatic decade between two famous exhibitions--the scandalous Salon des Refuses in 1863 and the first Impressionist showing in 1874--set against the rise and dramatic fall of Napoleon III and the Second Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. A tale of many artists, it revolves around the lives of two, described as "the two poles of art"--Ernest Meissonier, the most famous and successful painter of the 19th century, hailed for his precision and devotion to history; and Edouard Manet, reviled in his time, who nonetheless heralded the most radical change in the history of art since the Renaissance. Out of the fascinating story of their parallel lives, illuminated by their legendary supporters and critics--Zola, Delacroix, Courbet, Baudelaire, Whistler, Monet, Hugo, Degas, and many more--Ross King shows that their contest was not just about Art, it was about competing visions of a rapidly changing world.

With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and a revolutionary movement had the power to electrify and divide a nation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:46 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Chronicles the origins of Impressionism against the backdrop of the artistic and cultural events of the nineteenth century as exemplified in the work of two artists--Ernest Meissonier and Edouard Manet.

» see all 3 descriptions

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