edited by the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft and the Kunsthaus Zürich. Hirmer Verlag, distributed by the University of Chicago Press, February 2018. 246 p. ill. ISBN 9783777429465 (pbk), $49.95.
Reviewed July 2018
Painters who are successful in their own time may not appeal to subsequent generations, while those who initially are met with scorn may become revered later. According to the introduction by Sandra Gianfreda, the aim of the exhibition Praised and Ridiculed: French Painting 1820-1880, held November 10, 2017-January 28, 2018 at the Kunsthaus Zürich, was “…to expand the visitors’ view of nineteenth-century art by allowing them to become acquainted with long-familiar artists from a different perspective, and to allow them to discover … other artists.” This volume was published in conjunction with the exhibition.
These “praised and ridiculed” painters range from luminaries, such as Edgar Degas and Claude Monet, to the considerably more obscure Auguste Glaize and Edouard Hamman. The volume’s text features four substantial essays, by both established and emerging scholars, on various aspects of nineteenth-century French art. Oskar Bätschmann discusses the Salon; Marianne Koos, Manet and the reception of Chardin; Matthias Krüger, the demise of history painting; and James H. Rubin, landscape painting in transition.
The essays are followed by the catalog of the exhibition. Each of the 107 paintings displayed in the show is reproduced in a full-page color plate, and most come from Swiss collections such the Foundation E. G. Bührle and the Kunsthaus Zürich.
The appendix features short biographies of the artists, a timeline on the history of the Salon, a sizable bibliography, and information about the authors of the essays. It includes a “List of Works Exhibited,” but lacks a full enumeration of all illustrations throughout the volume. This is problematic, because a detail of a painting may appear separately from the full work, with no ready way to connect the two. A comprehensive index also is absent and would have been welcome.
The binding is paper but feels sturdy, even in a volume measuring 11” by 9.” The text is written in an accessible style, although extensive footnotes are available for the scholar. Those notes are grouped together in the appendix, which is not the most convenient placement; locating them at the end of each essay would have made them easier to consult.
The essays are thought-provoking and thoroughly documented. The volume’s central core is its full-page illustrations, which include both familiar and little-known works. Despite its minor deficiencies, this book is illuminating, and is recommended for academic and museum libraries.