A tale of many artists, The Judgment of Paris 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 most fascinating story of their parallel lives, illuminated by their legendary supporters and critics, King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and a revolutionary art movement had the power to electrify and divide a nation.
©2006 Ross King; (P)2006 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"King is a master at linking pivotal moments in art history to epic rivalries....Supremely engaging and illuminating." (Booklist)
This is a history of the Paris Salon in mid nineteenth century where every year paint artists compete for space at the exhibit in the Champs Elysee palace. It's mainly about Manet and Meissonier with asides about other impressionists. The core is a discussion of the transition from realism ( Meissonier) to impressionism (Manet and others) and the politics of the Salon. Not very interesting, yet somewhat informative. The text is rambling but has a good narrator.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
Interested in the era of the French Impressionists? Want to see how that singular group of artists fits in with the rest of the world around them? This is the book for you. Most art history books neglect or severely limit the social expectations and political situations when outlining their own histories. I tend to believe this is potentially the largest mistake any such book can make. This volume goes straight for it, giving the reader quite a bit of information on the reign of Napoleon III and the politics of the Salon, but the personalities of the artists at the center of this story still come shining through in a way that makes them human. As a result, the art they produce will mean more, which is the entire point of a book like this. The 3 M's - Meissonier, Manet, and Monet - are the ones the story most revolves around, being the biggest names of the era, but others are included to lesser extents. This is not a full biography of any of these artists. Rather, this is about putting them in the context of their time and place.
Unless the reader has a photographic memory and all-encompassing knowledge of the works of this time, it's recommended that references such as Google Images or Wiki be harnessed. This isn't necessary for every chapter, but when the individual works are discussed as part of the context of the story, it will help to know what those paintings look like. I find it also helps to be able to look up the artists and their models, just to put a face to the name.
The book is read in British English, which made listening to it challenging. An art history lover, or a painter might find this book highly interesting.The book would be stronger with illustrations to accompany it.I ended up buying the kindle version.The kindle version could benefit from more illustrations.
Birder at Large
It could have been better if the author wrote this book in chronological order - instead it skips back and forth from artist to year to event. Honestly, I couldn't finish it...much like my lima beans as a kid.
At times I was completely captivated, the other times I was saying to myself, "Wait, I thought we were talking about 1860, but now we're back in 1850."
Tristan was great. Well done sir.
I rarely write bad reviews because the books I choose to read are fabulous...except, well, this one. I feel bad for giving King a bad review...but I do rather want the 12 hours I spent reading (listening to) this back. Good day Mr. King.
What a wonderful audiobook! The narrator is perfectly matched and gives a terrific performance. It is delighfully entertaiing while at the same time being informative. Highly reccommended.
I’ve always loved impressionism but was unaware of the cultural backdrop and the circumstances that shaped its emergence. Knowing more about this movement’s history can only increase your appreciation of the art. My only complaint is that this audio book should have been illustrated! Listening to it sent me time and again to the Internet to research artworks I was unfamiliar with and to look anew at works I’ve know for years. This book has earned the highest praise I can give an audio book – I’m buying the hard cover edition too!
I'm a big fan of Ross King and this is an interesting history of a period of change in the world of painting. I would give it 5 stars if it were not for the narrator's incorrect and inconsistent pronunciation of the French words in almost every paragraph. This distracted me to the point that I found it difficult to pay attention to the substance of the book.
As an artist and a teacher, my tastes in books are quite diverse.
An engaging narrative surrounds the events of the creation of the most pivotal painting in modern art, "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe." Better known to Americans as "Luncheon on the Grass," this painting marks the beginning of modern art, affecting every painting to come after it. Everything about this painting was different and radical: the scandalous subject matter, violations of perspective, confounding multiple light sources, and most of all the style of painting. Manet did paint it in the draftsman like style of the popular painters of the day, but in an "impressionistic" way.
This is a must for any art history buff and an excellent story of French history for the less artistically inclined as well.
The fact that this book traces the development of an important movement in visual art might be reason enough to recommend it as a book to read on paper rather than to listen to. Although the descriptions were very vivid and conjured up a fairly good representation of the works described (even works unfamiliar to the "reader"), there were quite a few occasions when I would have liked a closer look at the works alongside the descriptions. But another reason I might have enjoyed this book a great deal more on paper is the narrator, who had a very unconventional (and at times, not even consistent) way of stressing the many French words that populate the book; the erratic stress pattern became so jarring that I could not wait for the reading to end, even in the thick of a very well-constructed and engrossing narrative! The book on its own gets 5 stars, but its narration demotes the audio version to 3.
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