Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Judgement of Paris by Ross King

This excellent book brings to life Paris and the artists of Paris during the decade 1863-1874.   Although many of the Impressionist artists such as Pissarro, Cezanne, Monet, and Morisot are woven into the story, it is particularly focused on Edouard Manet and Ernest Messonier.  Wait, you say, who is Messonier?  Well you may ask.  For while he was alive,  Messonier was the wealthiest and most prominent painter of the time. He won three grand prizes from the Salon during  his life, he was wealthy beyond the dreams of most artists of the time. Yet today, very few have even heard of him, much less seen his work. On the other hand, we have Edouard Manet, who seldom had money to live on and who was belittled and ridiculed through most of his life. Today works by Manet are valued in the tens of millions of dollars and he is regarded as one of the premier artists of all time.  The story of their lives and the story of art in France during this period includes the Franco-Prussian War, the fall and death of Louis-Napoleon, and the Communards in Paris.  A  tumultuous period which gave us the Impressionists. Another excellent book by the author of Brunelleschi's Dome, which if you haven't read makes you 2 books behind--start reading!!

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