A history of the Impressionist movement, from the rise of Manet as the most controversial artist of the mid-19th-century to the record-breaking prices achieved at auction over the last decade. It also looks at the most important artistic events, exhibitions and sales.
When Monet falls and injures his leg, young Frederic Bazille entertains the sufferer by painting his portrait in bed; when Monet is penniless and his mistress pregnant, Bazille buys a painting out of charity. But Bazille dies in the Franco-Prussian War, while Monet lives on to become a great master and to enjoy a productive old age lasting well into the 20th century. This story, which stretches from the 1860s to the 1920s, is just one of a vast number of intriguing narratives that weave through this diary of the Impressionist movement. From the rise of Manet as the most controversial artist of the mid-19th century to the record-breaking prices achieved at auction over the last decade, the most important artistic events, exhibitions and sales are chronicled, as are the artists' personal lives. Carefully selected extracts from the artists' private letters and diaries, and from reviews and studies, allow the reader to hear the actual voices and opinions of the time; while the book's arrangement allows access to an immense database of information in order to explore any particular subject or area of interest. Contemporary historical events - political, economic, social, cultural - are recorded in parallel with the artistic developments. A huge number of images of all kinds reveal the splendour of the great Impressionist masterpieces and the reality of the world in which they were created. Bernard Denvir, art historian and writer, is a former head of the Department of Art History at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design, and is consultant editor of "The Artist". He is the author of "The Impressionists at First Hand" (Thames and Hudson, 1987) and "The Thames and Hudson Encyclopaedia Impressionism" (1991).