The work of art : plein-air painting and artistic identity in nineteenth-century France

Callen, Anthea author

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  • Creator Anthea Callen
  • Format Books
  • Publication London, UK : Reaktion Books Ltd, 2015.
  • Physical Details
    • 336 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 26 cm
  • ISBNs 9781780233550, 1780233558
  • OCLC ocn909968561


  • In The Work of Art, Anthea Callen explores the paintings, self-portraits, portraits of fellow artists, photographs, prints and studio images of nineteenth-century French landscape painters including the Impressionists. At the same time she considers the emergence of modern artistic identity in the context of creative work. Artists and their paintings under the microscope here include Courbet, Cezanne and Pissarro, as well as their precursors and followers. The book examines their modes of self-representation and painting methods to explore the formation of avant-garde art and modern artistic identity, while paying particular attention to the painters' touches and mark making. She argues that landscape painting in general, and the plein air oil sketch in particular, were key drivers of change in artistic practice in the nineteenth century, which in turn led to the Impressionist revolution. In this beautifully illustrated, highly readable volume, Callen offers fresh insights into the development of avant-garde French painting and the concept of the modern artist, delving deeper into the topic than any before.


  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-318) and index.
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