This witty and engaging history of Impressionism documents the transformation of one of the most intriguing movements in modern art from a public scandal to priceless commodity, as told by a true insider.
In 1892 Degas' painting In the Café was sold for a mere 180 guineas at auction, with the public hissing as the hammer fell. Less than a century later another Impressionist work, Renoir's Moulin de la Galette, sold at Sotheby's for $78 million, accompanied by enthusiastic applause.
In this art history book about the Impressionist movement, Philip Hook examines the public's change of heart toward Impressionism. Starting with its shocking novelty and confounding style, he traces the impact of the Impressionist painting as it spread to Germany, America and Great Britain, polarizing modernists and conservatives.
Equally fascinating is the story of Impressionism's change in status. More than exceptionally pretty pictures, Impressionist works have become a currency in their own right, being bought and sold like bluechip stock - coveted as much for their monetary worth as for their intrinsic beauty. Drawn from Hook's own experiences with art collectors and dealers, this fascinating chapter in art history is narrated through the lens of today's art market.