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The Private Lives of the Impressionists


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About the Author

Sue Roe is the author of several books, including a widely praised biography of the artist Gwen John. She lives and teaches in Brighton, England.


An accomplished scholar who's written prolifically in the area of 19th- and 20th-century French and English painting, 20th-century English literature, and 20th-century aesthetics, Roe (creative studies, Univ. of Sussex; Gwen John: A Painter's Life) here offers a collective biography that explores how Manet, Monet, Pissarro, C?zanne, and several other impressionist artists met, lived, and worked together. However scholarly Roe's background, her new book is more charming than academically rigorous. Admirably free of intellectual jargon and scholarly citation devices, it is a decidedly readable work that should engage lay readers and spur undergraduates to conduct authentic research of their own. But despite the inclusion of seemingly extensive endnotes, a bibliography, and an index, a more cerebral audience may quickly become frustrated by Roe's perplexing citation style and will be left wondering how much of the information is extrapolated from reliable sources. Recommended for public libraries.-Jennifer H. Krivickas, Yale Ctr. for British Art, New Haven Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From Monet and Pissarro's first meeting in Paris in 1860 to art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel's influential 1886 Impressionist exhibition in New York City, the group known as the Impressionists Manet, Monet, Pissarro, C?zanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Morisot and Cassatt struggled to build their reputations, support themselves financially and create meaningful personal lives. In this meticulously researched and vividly written book, British writer Roe (Gwen John) argues that their drive for success was the strongest unifying factor among this diverse group of artists, including the antisocial, celibate Degas, the socialist Pissarro and the chronically depressed Sisley, who resented the Impressionists' meager public appreciation until the very end of his life. Roe's nuanced portraits of these artists include personal details both small the American Cassatt's booming voice and "atrocious" French accent and significant Manet's illegitimate son and his upper-middle-class family's elaborate efforts to conceal the child's existence. The result is a comprehensive and revealing group portrait, superbly contextualized within the period's volatile political, socioeconomic and artistic shifts. Roe's book will be of great interest to both art and social historians as well as to the general reader. 16 pages of color illus., b&w illus; 1 map. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Charming... a decidedly readable work that should engage lay readers and spur undergraduates to conduct authentic research of their own."--Library Journal
"Meticulously researched and vividly written...a comprehensive and revealing group portrait."--Publishers Weekly
"Roe constructs a penetrating group portrait...scintillatingly detailed and empathic."--Booklist (starred review)
"Wonderful...Roe has a lively writing style and does a good job of delineating the personalities of each artist."--Providence Journal
"Exceptionally detailed and thoroughly researched....Roe has done an admirable job of unearthing...countless...source materials."--San Francisco Chronicle

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