Page Views Explores Monet: The Early Years

We hope you’re enjoying our first Page Views selection, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave The World Impressionism by Ross King (Walker & Company, 2006) as you prepare for your visit to Monet: The Early Years at the Legion of Honor. King’s work provides an approachable view into the political, social and artistic lineages of Impressionism. From Meisonnier’s painstaking and elaborate historical paintings, to the then-derided, now-celebrated works of the Salon des Refusés, we’re captivated by this period.

Join us on April 26 for our inaugural Page Views meetup at the Legion of Honor from 1:30–2:30 pm in the Florence Gould auditorium. Can’t attend in person? Enjoy the event on Facebook Live and participate remotely.

We can’t wait to discuss the book with you! In the meantime, here are some questions to consider while you read:

  • By 1863, the French government had been selecting, guiding, and approving (or denying) French artists for 200 years. “French art,” as a concept, was tied tightly to the French state and its art academy. How did this influence the avant-garde choices made by many “refused” artists in their attempt in fostering a new art of France?
  • The protagonists of King’s book came from varying levels of wealth and social status, and they frequently chose to depict idiosyncratic subject matter. Is there a single idea or social/political position that connects these artists?
  • Many of the artists now grouped under the style of Impressionism experienced the pains of obscurity, rejection, and exclusion from Nieuwerkerke’s (and the Emperor’s) established French art scene. What can we learn from these underdogs?
  • How does the notion of “artistic training” change in the years described in King’s book?
  • How does the Salon system compare to today’s art viewing experience? How about the Salon des Refusés?
  • The art criticism of this period increasingly prioritizes contemporary subject matter and the subjective experience of the viewer over scenes that refer to a body of historical knowledge shared by the society. Why? And how did this impulse affect the way practicing artists worked?
  • Judgment of Paris brings the Parisian experience of innovation from 1863-1873 to life. What contemporary movements and experiences did you connect to this era?

Share your reading progress and thoughts with us using #PageViewsSF on Instagram and Twitter. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on April 26!