You know the painting...a group of Parisians on a restaurant terrace overlooking the Seine near Paris....have you wondered what they're doing, saying, thinking. Who's who? What are their occupations? Are they friends? Lovers? Co-workers? Family?
Author Susan Vreeland did the incredible research into Renoir's life and those of his models to tell the tale. It takes place post Franco-Prussian War when there was a cultural explosion in France. Social, artistic, and intellectual changes of the late nineteenth century make up the backdrop for the relationships that develop. I loved it.
I was fascinted by this book, chosen by my library's reading club. It took me longer than usual to read because I kept refering back to the painting to connect names and lives with faces. I considered the amount of research necessary by Ms. Vreeland on not just the history but the actual painting techniques, and it had to be considerable. She painted with her words, showing me an artist's mind and also that of the models themselves. This book made me look up our local art museum to see if any Impressionist, particularly Renoir, works are here. I will go see them, and look for more Vreeland works of art as well.
I really liked this book. If you are an artist or interested in art, you'll definitely like it. If you aren't, you might not.
It's all about the act of creating this famous painting, the concept, collecting the models, financing it, getting the location and props, and then the painting. Intertwined of course with the various affairs with his models and patrons.
It took me over 200 pages to get really interested ihn this book, as the lives of the people in the painting are revealed. That really brought it to life. I picked up a modicum of knowledge about the techniques of impressionist painting. Now I'm spurred on to take an art appreciation class.
I enjoyed this book and all the references to the impressionist artists.