Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and
- 368 pages
- Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt
- Jeffrey Meyers
- 08 February 2017 Jeffrey Meyers
This was a slightly dry book that I didn t really need to read because I have already read most of what s here somewhere else And I hate art books that do not provide an illustration but instead DESCRIBE a painting in detail to you I can go look it up on the Internet if you are too cheap to reproduce it, thank you, don t DESCRIBE it to me But this does get a point for not sloughing off Leon Koella but actually discussing the issue I don t recall reading before that an illegitimate child in France could not be legitimized if it s parent was married to someone else at the time of conception So if Leon was actually Manet s father s child, as some believe, then he could not have ever legitimized him Which makes the most sense out that situation I really hate it when authors state as fact something that is not known , and how many times have I read that Leon was Manet s son, period, a factual statement, when they may very well have actually been brothers. Impressionist Quartet draws us into the inner lives of a core group of mid nineteenth century artists Edouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot known, collectively, as the Impressionists Derided by critics, sneered at by contemporaries, their work sold for pittances They were either marginalized or dismissed altogether by the French art establishment And, to some degree, their iconic works have eclipsed them.Portraying them as individuals and as fellow conspirators in a new way of seeing and representing the world, Jeffrey Meyers brings to life this most popular and influential group of painters in the entire history of art The result is an accessible and wonderfully illuminating book that offers readers a fresh way of looking at these artists and the priceless, timeless masterpieces they created. A very secondary book I d hoped to learn about the relationships between Manet Morisot, and especially Cassatt and Degasbut there is little here that I haven t found presented elsewhere, and in far less tedious terms For a book on four painters, there is a notable lack of reproduced paintings, and those paintings that are reproduced are in black and white, stealing the Impressionist vitality Moreover, the author is forever verbally describing paintings, and at length What tedium This horror reaches its apex when Meyers says that a certain painting Degas The Absinthe Drinker reminds him of, for frick s sake, a Hemingway short story A Clean Well Lighted Place and then goes on to describe the Hemingway story itself What strange decisions you make, Mr Author. Uneven treatment of subjects, pedantic descriptions of painting without illustrations, use of black and white illustrations Did not enjoy No unique perspective on any of his subjects I was just going to list off my grievances without forming them into sentences because this book was not worth my time His treatment of Morisot was sexist and vapid Essentially, he used her biography as a way of getting to Manet and Degas Also, he seems to have dismissive view of her skills as an artist He praises her technique but puts down her authority as a creative member of the impressionists I would not recommend this book to anyone. This was so disappointing and I wanted to like it Each artist is written about in isolation These four artist do pop up in stories about each other but only when their paths crossed, not in any meaningful way If you re going to name this book Impressionist Quartet, one assumes their stories will be woven together to show how they influenced and competed with each other The other disappointing aspect of this book is that the author describes major paintings and works along the way but there aren t any pictures of the artwork A picture of the artwork as it is being described would have been very helpful I looked several of them up while I was reading. Meyers is an accomplished scholar, biographer and editor, with highly regarded studies of Katherine Mansfield, Somerset Maugham, D.H Lawrence and other literary lions to his credit Writing about the impressionists is a perfect match for his talents because of the intimate relationship of art and letters in the late 19th century.In his four subject biography Meyers illuminates the intimacies of Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt Their private ordeals and inner demons are used to accentuate the brilliance of their paintings and the revolutionary implications of their artistic vision Many have speculated that the two male artists enjoyed sexual as well as artistic relationships with their female disciples Meyers examines contemporary and modern secondary sources the two couples letters were all burned , recording every connection While he is not completely successful in this endeavor his journey is fascinating nonetheless An important aspect of nineteenth century art was the impact of Baudelaire His concept of the modern painter was a charge of dynamite that Manet detonated in 1863 when he exhibited Luncheon on the Grass The enigmatic depiction of a nude woman lounging with fully dressed men in a forest glade was a frank admission of sexuality It created a furor, as did his Olympia, the even arresting view of an unclothed and visibly bored prostitute viewing her next client Both women look directly at the viewer, underscoring the complicity to be found in the eye of the beholder Despite efforts to secure popular acclaim, Manet was never to rid himself of the notoriety provoked by Luncheon and Olympia Moreover, his inner torment affected his relationship with Berthe Morisot and found a counterpoint in the private lives of his friends Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt There is much in this educating and entertaining look at the lives of four Impressionist masters. I dislike authors that insist of describing works of art in detail and not illustrating the work Because of this I only made it to chapter 5 and then gave up. If you like the Impressionists, you ll love this book Written on the person from a human and not artistic perspective. learned about Manet IN 1st 10 pages than ever knew Wonderful profiles of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt I absolutely fell in love with Manet.