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One of the first products of the recent warming trend in US-Soviet cultural relations and an impressive collaborative effort by an American and a Russian publisher, this massive volume reproduces in full color 277 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from the collections of The Hermitage in Leningrad, Moscow's Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The works of 23 painters, from Boudin to Picasso, are superbly reproduced on heavy stock. The plates are large (many full-page), the color true. CÉzanne and Matisse are particularly well-served by this painstaking attention to detail. Their works--especially CÉzanne's synthetic ""Still Life with Curtain"" and Matisse's joyous ""Nasturtiums and 'The Dance' ""and ""Goldfish"" prove to be the high points of the book. The two introductory essays by William James Williams of the National Gallery and Marina Bessonova of the Pushkin Museum offer few new insights into Impressionism or Post-Impressionism but are of value for their descriptions of how the collections were assembled. While it may seem ironic that many of these French masterpieces now hang in American and Russian museums, the explanation is simple. It was American collectors like Chester Dale and the Russians Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morosov who recognized the genius of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters when their fellow countrymen regarded them as either charlatans or madmen. More importantly, the American and Russian enthusiasts bought their works. Eventually, Dale and other American collectors presented their collections to the American government; and after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Shchukin and Morosov collections were nationalized. Today, the combined body of paintings represent possibly the most comprehensive overview of French painting of the late-19th and early-20th centuries in the world. Brief biographies of the artists open each section. These repeat widely known facts about their lives and influences, but will prove useful reference guides for readers who may be unaware of the relationships between the painters and their place in the chronology of the movements. A handsomely mounted, lavishly illustrated work whose texts may disappoint art lovers already familiar with the period but which will prove a popular introduction for less sophisticated gallery goers.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1986
Publisher: Hugh Lauter Levin--dist. by Macmillan