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Teaser Tuesdays: The Judgment of Paris

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My teaser this week is from a fascinating nonfiction book about art history, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King. The book describes the revolution in French art by focusing on the lives and works of two very different artists: Ernest Meissonier, the most acclaimed artist of his time, and Edouard Manet, whose works were reviled for their unconventional subject matter and technique.
King - Judgment of Paris
This passage is from chapter 13, in which critics  and other viewers savage Manet's painting, "Incident In a Bull Ring." Among other complaints, they find fault with the painting's perspective, which they say makes the bull in the background appear to be too small.

This "microscopic bull" was the source of much amusement to both the public and the critics alike, appearing to them a deplorably amateurish stab at conveying on canvas the recession of three-dimensional space in the bull ring — with the result that the bull, placed in the background, looked like it had shrunk. The journalist Hector de Callias, writing in L'Artiste, mocked how the matadors seemed to be laughing at "this little bull which they could crush under the heels of their pumps," while Edmond About joked that the dead toreador laid out in the foreground looked as if he had been "killed by a horned rat."

(Ultimately, the attack on his painting stung Manet so badly that he slashed "Incident In a Bull Ring" into pieces. Later he was to exhibit the bottom part as "The Dead Toreador." Two of the other fragments, including the one containing the "microscopic bull," have never been found.)

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