The Judgment of Paris

The Judgment of Paris

The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism

Book - 2006
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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.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co. : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck, 2006
ISBN: 9780802714664
Branch Call Number: 759.4 King
759.4 King
Characteristics: xiii, 448 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Judgement of Paris


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Marlowe Jan 08, 2016

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.

Vincent T Lombardo Oct 01, 2015

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.

Mar 09, 2015

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.

Nov 11, 2014

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.

arjunbiswas7 Mar 19, 2013

This book was returned last week

Jan 12, 2011

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!

debwalker Dec 10, 2010

"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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