Saturday, July 17, 2004

Growing up with the Impressionists: the Diary of Julie Manet

Growing up with the Impressionists: the Diary of Julie Manet.
This is a review of this book by Julie Lorenzen, It is very well done. It has lots of good information on 19th Century Paris.

From the site:

After reading the book Growing up with the Impressionists: the Diary of Julie Manet, I couldn’t help but think that Julie Manet, the niece of painter Edouard Manet and daughter of Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot led an enviable life. Born November 14, 1878 in Paris at the height of the Impressionist period, Julie grew up amongst the likes of Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and the Great Symbolist Poet Stephane Mallarme who were all friends of Berthe Morisot and Eugene Manet, Edouard’s brother. Unlike her brother-in-law, Edouard Manet, who refused to exhibit with a group that called themselves the Impressionists, Berthe Morisot embraced the title and showed her works along with artists such as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Alfred Sisley. She showed every year starting in 1874 except for 1879, the year after Julie was born. Julie soon became Berthe’s favorite subject and Julie occasionally wrote of posing for her mother. 

There was no mention of formal schooling in the diary although Julie wrote about being tutored. Her entries revealed an intelligent girl who grew up in a sophisticated world that included attending concerts and art gallery exhibits in Paris. Her mother hosted Thursday night gatherings that Mallarme and the Impressionists would attend. After Morisot died, it was not uncommon for Julie to join Morisot’s friends for dinner at someone’s home where such current events as the Dreyfus affair were discussed.

Julie started her diary at the age of 14 in 1893. The last entry of this diary ends December 1899, when Julie was twenty and engaged to artist Ernest Rouart. In some entries, Julie’s topics of having a birthday, getting the chicken pox, shopping in Paris and attending the funeral of her “oncle” and “tante” seemed rather ordinary. However, when Julie writes about the art in Paris and the people who created it, her diary became extraordinary. An aspiring artist herself, she often wrote about visiting the artists at their studios, going to an exhibit where she would spot their work, or having a conversation with Renoir or Degas while copying work at the Louvre. In one entry (undated but included with others from the year 1897), it was apparent that Julie realized the importance of impressionism to the era in which she lives. After reading a few pages of a published diary of a young girl like herself she comments, “What infuriates me about her is that, living at a time when Manet and all the Impressionists were alive, she had nothing to say about any of that."

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