The Ultimate Trophy: How the Impressionist Painting Conquered the World
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 history-cum-memoir Philip Hook, Senior Director of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art department, 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 blue-chip stock – coveted as much for their monetary worth as for their intrinsic beauty.
“In his new book, Philip Hook,…traces how Impressionist painting conquered the world and was transformed from art that was derided by all to art that was desired by all” — Sotheby’s Preview, Jan/Feb 2009 –Sotheby’s Preview, Jan/Feb 2009
PUBLICATION DATE: January 2009