The Judgment of Paris by Ross King
Manet, Meissonier and the Birth of Impressionism

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The Judgment of Paris chronicles the dramatic decade between two famous exhibitions-the scandalous Salon des Refuses in 1863 and the first Impressionist showing in 1874-set against the rise and dramatic fall of Napoleon III and the Second Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. A tale of many artists, it 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 fascinating story of their parallel lives, illuminated by their legendary supporters and critics-Zola, Delacroix, Courbet, Baudelaire, Whistler, Monet, Hugo, Degas, and many more-Ross King shows that their contest was not just about Art, it was about competing visions of a rapidly changing world.

With a novelist's skill and the insight of an historian, King recalls a seminal period when Paris was the artistic center of the world, and a revolutionary movement had the power to electrify and divide a nation.

About Ross King

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Ross King is the highly praised author of Brunelleschi's Dome (the Book Sense Nonfiction Book of the Year in 2000), Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling (on the New York Times extended bestseller list), The Judgment of Paris, Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, and two novels, Ex Libris and Domino. He lives outside Oxford in England.
Published May 26, 2009 by Walker Books. 474 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel. Non-fiction

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By shifting the light of his research from Meissonier (whose career is now at its nadir) to Manet (whose paintings now go for millions of dollars) and back again, the author illuminates an entire epoch.

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The New York Times

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If Manet, with his private income and high-handed ways, is not exactly the ideal struggling artist, Meissonier — who would sink into utter obscurity, his name omitted from standard histories of French painting and his statue removed from the Louvre in the 1960's by order of the French culture min...

Mar 26 2006 | Read Full Review of The Judgment of Paris: Manet,...

The New York Times

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(After a dinner party at Manet's, King writes, Morisot's mother reassured her that "Mademoiselle Gonzalès has grown ugly.") King doesn't miss the character flaws of any of his large cast, and the effect is a meticulously detailed panorama not unlike one of Meissonier's grandest battlefield scenes.

Mar 26 2006 | Read Full Review of The Judgment of Paris: Manet,...

Entertainment Weekly

French Impressionism is so oversaturated in pop culture — reproductions of Claude Monet's works festoon the T-shirts, mugs, and calendars of mall walkers worldwide — that it's surprising to learn the painter of pretty flowers is a minor character in Ross King's meticulously researched history o...

Feb 08 2006 | Read Full Review of The Judgment of Paris: Manet,...

Bookmarks Magazine

Matthew Price San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars "King finds poignancy in the story of a once-famous artist whose reputation has vanished, making him such a sympathetic figure that if this lively book sparks a Meissonier revival, it won’t be a surprise."

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of The Judgment of Paris: Manet,...

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