Candy Wood's Reviews > The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism

The Judgment of Paris by Ross King
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Oct 13, 2011

Read from October 13 to November 19, 2011

Focusing on the painters Meissonier and Manet, Ross King provides a social and cultural history of Paris from 1863 to 1874. I knew about Manet but not Meissonier, some of whose paintings I must have seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Wallace Collection in London, and that’s part of King’s point: Meissonier’s careful brushwork and historical canvases received high praise then while Manet’s less-finished scenes of modern life were derided, but now their positions are reversed. King’s skills as a novelist help recount the painters’ working methods and relationships, as well as the annual suspense of whose works would be chosen for the Salon and whose rejected. Even though Manet was not an Impressionist and would not exhibit in the 1874 show that got the movement its name (from a title that Monet didn’t originate), his work prepared for the Impressionists’ way of seeing. And to be fair, next time I’m in NY or London, I’ll look for those Meissonier canvases.

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