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The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism

by Ross King

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1,1152418,162 (3.98)39
History. Nonfiction. HTML:With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, bestselling author Ross King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and the rivalry between Meissonier and Manet.

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.
… (more)
  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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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I very much enjoyed this history of the beginnings of Impressionism in France. It was well written, fairly well illustrated (there is always the internet for looking up more of the paintings mentioned, but I hate getting up from my reading to do that), and the subject matter and people involved were fascinating to me. Thanks AC and the Artist Lovers group on GR for drawing my attention to this book, which I doubt I ever would have heard of otherwise.

I wanted to add that after reading this, I am watching (for the second time) my DVD of the BBC drama series The Impressionists starring Richard Armitage. I enjoyed the series the first time, but it's even more enjoyable now that I am more familiar with the people and the events. It's fun seeing it all brought to life. ( )
  dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
I was familiar with much of this art history from a university introductory course (Darkness at Noon) and French political history from other readings but King weaves a wonderful story of their interconnectedness that filled in a lot of gaps for me. Perfect pandemic reading. ( )
  heggiep | Apr 20, 2021 |
I always enjoy histories of the arts (music history, literary history and art history), and Ross King is one of the best art historians writing for a broad audience. Obviously, a book (or in my case, an audio book) about art has its limitations (which copious use of Google Image search is the remedy).

The beauty of King's work is his focus on the *history* aspect - not just the history of the artists, but the history of the period more broadly. The history of the Second Empire and its fall, the Paris Commune of 1871, and the earliest days of the Third Republic are all here. We learn a lot about the artists, but also Napoleon III (and to a lesser extent, Napoleon Bonaparte), Wilhelm I of Prussia, and the political leaders of France in the period from 1863 onward.

The hero here is Eduard Manet; the ultimate villain is Ernest Meissonier. You might ask about the latter, "Who?" This book will tell you. Both hero and villain are portrayed not in black and white, but in varying shades of grey, with all of their human warts and foibles. A great read. ( )
  vlodko62 | Dec 29, 2018 |
It's hard to believe that Impressionism, the almost universally loved school of art would ever have been regarded as dangerous and controversial. However, in the 1860's that's precisely how it was regarded by the powers that be in France. This entertaining group tells the story of the movement through two opposing artists of the time: Ernest Meissonier and Edouard Manet, the former an accepted and officially revered traditionalist and the latter a revolutionary at the vanguard of a new wave of art.

It also weaves the history of the time through the story, the rise of the Second Empire, Baron Haussmann's rebuilding of Paris, the Franco-Prussian War, the bloody Commune, and finally La Belle Epoch. A great read for those who love art, history and/or France ( )
  etxgardener | Oct 24, 2017 |
As good an introduction to the impressionist movement as I've read, though the end feels a bit rushed (and to be honest I haven't read all that many). Not quite to the same level as others of King's books, but still provides a very decent treatment of the evolution of the movement's critical reception. King's biographical details on the not-at-all-well-known-now Meissonier were fascinating, too. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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History. Nonfiction. HTML:With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, bestselling author Ross King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and the rivalry between Meissonier and Manet.

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.

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