PRINT May 1985


The Real World of the Impressionists: Paintings and Photographs 1848–1918

Yann Le Pichon’s intention to “recreate the intimate milieus” that shaped painting in France from 1848 to 1918 is unnecessary, given the number of extensive and well-documented studies of the Paris of early Modernism. This poorly researched and spare effort is organized into six chronological chapters, each covering a quartier of Paris (or a country site) that was significant to the avant-garde. In the foreword, Maurice Rheims of the French Academy echoes Le Pichon’s bankrupt thesis: “The vision of happiness . . . celebrated in these canvases is . . . a kind of salvation wrested from the work of art that offered the artist some compensation for the painful dramas in his life.” (The book was originally published in France as Les Peintres du Bonheur). The text merely rehearses the myth of Impressionism as a charming, genteel interlude in the history of Modernism. Le Pichon reduces the

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