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In this handsome book, a leading authority on Impressionist painting offers a new view of this admired and immensely popular art form. John House examines the style and technique, subject matter and imagery, exhibiting and marketing strategies, and social, political, and ideological contexts of Impressionism in light of the perspectives that have been brought to it in the last twenty years. When all of these diverse approaches are taken into account, he argues, Impressionism can be seen as a movement that challenged both artistic and political authority with its uncompromisingly modern subject matter and its determinedly secular worldview.
Moving from the late 1860s to the early 1880s, House analyzes the paintings and career strategies of the leading Impressionist artists, pointing out the ways in which they countered the dominant conventions of the contemporary art world and evolved their distinctive and immediately recognizable manner of painting. Focusing closely on the technique, composition, and imagery of the paintings themselves and combining this fresh appraisal with recent historical studies of Impressionism, House explores how pictorial style could generate social and political meanings and opens new ways of looking at this luminous art.