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The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism | [Ross King]

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

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 amid scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial.
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Publisher's Summary

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 amid 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. With a novelist's skill and the insight of a historian, Ross King reveals how Impressionism would reorder both history and culture as it resonated around the world.

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

What the Critics Say

"King is a master at linking pivotal moments in art history to epic rivalries....Supremely engaging and illuminating." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Stephen Houston, TX, USA 01-31-06
    Stephen Houston, TX, USA 01-31-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A marvelous book"

    Is this book for you? Yes, if you are an artist or have an interest in European cultural history.

    Ross King certainly made an entire era come alive for me. It was fascinating to learn about the emotions and politics behind so many great paintings. Above all else, the author showed me how culture shapes our understanding of beauty and artistic achievement.

    Additionally, the reader of this book gave an animated and engaging performance.

    Highly recommended.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Long Beach, CA, USA 10-28-08
    Robert Long Beach, CA, USA 10-28-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Try this!"

    This was my first experience with Ross King, and after "Judgment of Paris" I am hungry to read more of his work. I thought it was a very enjoyable and entertaining "listen". Unlike some of the previous reviewers, I don't speak French, and so, was not disturbed by the reader's poor pronunciation. I listened to most of the book at my computer, which allowed me to search the web for most of the pictures mentioned in the story. This capability made the book an interesting interactive experience. All in all it was a great audio experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in art, art history, or just a good story.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII Grants Pass, OR, United States 04-01-12
    HIII Grants Pass, OR, United States 04-01-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Harsh judgments"

    It is pretty commom knowledge the impressionist had a difficult cultural battle to become even somewhat accepted. At the end of this listen I am still not positive if France has totally accepted impressionism or the Americans love of the genre make it impossible to believe the style is not loved universally. Ross King's Michangelio and the Pope Ceiling is such a great listen that comparison is unfair. This is a good, interesting listen but difficult. It has taken me almost a year to complete. I love art especially this period but to give this book more that 3 stars is impossible - art lovers have at it, the rest take a pass.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    12-01-11
    12-01-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Excellent for Serious Art Lovers"

    This is an excellent exploration of the political, social and artistic background that led to the birth of Impressionism. It is a very detailed, in-depth look at the artists Manet and Meissonier, their work and how that work both exemplified and defied the artistic trends and political environment of 19th century Paris - the crucial time period that both shaped and changed the art world.

    This is not a book for the casual art observer, but an in-depth exploration for those seriously interested in the Impressionists and/or the evolution of art during the 19th century as well as serious fans of Manet and Meissonier. Meissonier who, prior to this book, was rather unfamiliar to me exemplifies the ultimate, classically-trained French artist of his time. The author contrasts Meissonier with Eduard Manet who was was a key player in challenging the VERY strict dictates of the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris. The Academie was the ultimate authority in mid 19th Century Paris as to who did or did NOT get presented during the annual exhibition each year.

    This book gives an excellent, in-depth exploration of the numerous influences and happenings that resulted in the birth of Impressionism. It helps significantly to either be familiar with or have access (at least via internet) to copies of the paintings discussed here while King explores their significance and import. The beauty of reading a book like this today is the almost instant access the internet can provide to these works while reading the book. Its a bit like having your own personal docent step you through the foundational works of Impressionism, being able to see how one influenced the other.

    I used this as research for a recent study tour I was leading to Paris featuring both the Louvre and the Orsay museums and I found the material here both well presented, fascinating and an excellent preparation for my trip. I've always loved the Impressionists and studied them for years, but this helped to fill in some of the blanks surrounding both their work and its revolutionary effect on the entire world of art.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rachel Yakima, WA, United States 04-17-10
    rachel Yakima, WA, United States 04-17-10
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    "Good art history info"

    I teach art.
    This was a good overview of the transition to impressionism.
    I recommend it if you are interested in the topic.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Asheville, NC, USA 06-10-07
    Keith Asheville, NC, USA 06-10-07
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    "Compelling Listening"

    For me there is no better way to learn about history than the historic novel. "The Judgement of Paris" follows the parallel careers of the French painters Meissonier & Manet: one the most respected and sought-after painters of his day, the other a struggling artist who would eventually help define the Impressionist art movement.

    The story goes back & forth between the careers of both men before, during and just after the time that the Impressionists were setting up their own public showing, after being refused from the Paris Salon. You get a real feel for the sensibility, politics, art and people of that period of time. All in a very entertaining manner, that doesn't feel like a text book. It's the kind of story that will have you running to the library or internet to look up the lesser known paintings and sculptures that are mentioned throughout.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr, Julie Jackson 01-02-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "cultural history"

    Great historical context. cites personal letters and journals not readily available to an English only reader. Allows individual personality to operate as a cultural signifier. I sound like a professor, which I am, but this is a good read if you like history and think art matters.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hardy Ter Aar, Netherlands 11-05-12
    Hardy Ter Aar, Netherlands 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "The story I always wanted to read"
    Would you listen to The Judgment of Paris again? Why?

    Yes.Very interesting period.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Judgment of Paris?

    The siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War,the Commune its horrors and aftermath.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I enjoyed every bit of the book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    Any additional comments?

    A good mix of cultural and political history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Montrose, CO, United States 10-11-12
    Greg Montrose, CO, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting from an historical perspective"

    The Judgment of Paris is a good book with very interesting views of the general historical layout in which these events took place, what the painters did and why. Where it falls short is in it's lack of immediacy and intimacy. It's a little dry. That said, I do recommend it. What it has to teach is worth while and I have a new appreciation for some of the artists involved.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Lexington, KY USA 11-02-10
    Amazon Customer Lexington, KY USA 11-02-10 Member Since 2004
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    "All over the place"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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