Frequently Auto-Approved
Reviews Published Challenge Participant

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Art History Reading Challenge

I didn't get very far with the last one but I'm going to try again! I'm joining : Heidenkind's. I will probably start with Renoir's biography of his father.

I'd love to hear from others doing this challenge!

My theme for this challenge is the French Impressionists. That is just the way that it has worked out.

With Violets by Elizabeth Robards

This is a beautifully written novel about the ambitious, young woman artist, Berthe Morisot, and her love affair with Edouard Manet. The prose does descend into the 'purple' sometimes, I feel, and the dialogue is a bit contrived at times, but I enjoyed it very much.

The characterization is very good. Berthe is a very likeable young woman, torn between trying to please her mother who wants her to marry well, and her love for a married man. She is also an excellent artist.

Edouard Manet is also well-imagined. He is handsome and charming, but has a certain ruthlessness. I also liked the character of Degas, who seems to be either understanding or annoying because of his sarcasm.



The struggles of the Impressionists are interesting. Morisot is very determined to have her art respected, and this is always difficult for a new style of painting. Robards writes well about the problems that the Impressionists faced.

Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman


This is a luminous novel about the relationship between sisters, and art. Mary, an Impressionist artist, loved to paint her sister, Lydia. Chessman paints in words how both sisters feel and their moving relationship. This is a book that one could read many times.

The main problem with the book was that it was a bit hard to understand the relationships between the other family members. Lydia remembers her past and examines her life and the loss of her lover and brother. I wasn't quite sure how many brothers she had.

The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling

This is a brilliant analysis of Henri Matisse's stubborn Northern character, his rebellion against his father, his rebellion against conformism, and his struggle to transform modern art into a glittering world of light and colour.

This biography is well-written and interesting. However, it's very long and detailed.

I only read three books for this challenge, and I was supposed to read six. I haven't done very well! However, I will probably read three more books about the Impressionists and post short reviews here.

No comments: