This book accompanies the first major exhibition to focus exclusively on the portraits made by the Impressionist masters and their immediate predecessors. Breaking free from portraiture's conventions, the Impressionists expanded the notion of a portrait to reflect not only an individual's appearance but also his or her everyday surroundings. From traditional, tightly rendered likenesses to light-filled, loosely brushed paintings, the works in this volume depict a variety of subjects: friends, family members, patrons, public figures, and the artists themselves. Reproduced are key works by fourteen pivotal figures including Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, which reveal the astonishing originality and beauty of the Impressionists' portraits.
In an introductory essay, John House examines how the Impressionists' revolutionary approach to painting changed portraiture and discusses the meanings and implications of the various types of portraits they made. House explains how these portraits were used to establish public and private identities and what makes them such insightful expressions of modern life and identity.
An extended catalogue entry by curator Sona Johnston, assisted by Susan Bollendorf, accompanies each plate, discussing the identities of the paintings' subjects, the relationships between artists and sitters, and the place of each painting within the artist's oeuvre. The stories behind the canvases are revealed as Johnston highlights the social context of this influential circle of artists.
An essential volume for lovers of Impressionism, this beautiful book paints a revealingly intimate picture of the Impressionists' world.