Ross King is the bestselling author of Brunelleschi's Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, Leonardo and The Last Supper, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies and others. His work has won the RBC Taylor Prize, and been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the National Award for Arts Writing. He has lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian, the Aspen Institute, and the Frick Collection, and in Florence, Milan, Paris, and Giverny. He lives near Oxford with his wife, Melanie.
NBCC finalist King (Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling) presents an engrossing account of the years from 1863-when paintings denied entry into the French Academy's yearly Salon were shown at the Salon des Refuses-to 1874, the date of the first Impressionist exhibition. To dramatize the conflict between academicians and innovators during these years, he follows the careers of two formidable, and very different, artists: Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, a conservative painter celebrated for detailed historical subjects, and Edouard Manet, whose painting Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe caused an uproar at the Salon des Refuses. Many other artists of the day, among them Courbet, Degas, Morisot, Monet and Cezanne, are included in King's compelling narrative, and the story is further enhanced by the author's vivid portrayal of artistic life in Paris during a turbulent era that saw the siege of the city by the Prussians and the fall of Napoleon III. An epilogue underscores the irony of the tale: after his death, Meissonier quickly fell from favor, while Manet, whose paintings were once judged scandalous, was recognized as a great artist who set the stage for Impressionism and the future of painting. Illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Best-selling author King (Brunelleschi's Dome) does not disappoint with this fast-paced romp through the Parisian art scene between 1863 (the first Salon des Refuses exhibition) and 1874 (the first impressionist exhibition). Political upheaval and public scandal set the background for artistic endeavors, which King cleverly frames with two diverse figures who seem to share only initials: Ernest Meissonier (representing the successful old guard) and Edouard Manet (the radical provocateur of the new order). While many artists and paintings are touched on, King's approach will surely disappoint scholars looking to explore the artwork itself in any critical depth; this is not a work of art historical acumen. King diligently assembles a swath of anecdotes and evidence, coaxing lively color and fascinating detail from even the most stolid of historical facts and documents. The book serves as an entertaining if broad account of a revolutionary transformation in vision-not least of all through art. Recommended for general audiences.-Prudence Peiffer, Cambridge, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.