This lavishly illustrated volume features a broad selection of the Metropolitan Museum's greatest European paintings dating from 1800–1920. Pictures by sixty-seven artists from nine different countries are included, but the focus is on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist French painting, of which the Museum possesses the most comprehensive collection outside of France.
Portraits by Ingres, landscapes by Corot, powerful examples in both these genres by the Realist Courbet, and pictures by the Barbizon painters Millet and Doubigny exemplify developments in early nineteenth-century art and prefigure the works of the Impressionists. Paintings by the luminaries of the movement—Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pisarro, and Sisley—form the dazzling centerpiece of the book, and they in turn foreshadow the revolutionary visions of the Post-Impressionists Gauguin and Van Gogh, the Nabi painters Bonnard and Vuillard, the modern master Matisse, and the early Picasso. One sumptuous color-plate succeeds another, accompanied by informed commentary written by the scholars who know the collection best.
The volume opens with an essay by Gary Tinterow, longtime curator of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European paintings at the Metropolitan. He describes the formation of the collection and the process of creating appropriate gallery spaces to house it. From 1870, when the Museum was founded, to the present day, many curators and architects have labored to improve and enlarge the spaces in which the collection is presented. Comparative photographs document the successive stages in the evolution of the galleries for paintings and sculpture.
The book concludes with full documentation of the 193 featured paintings: each is illustrated for a second time, in black and white, and provided with a full provenance and exhibition history and a selected bibliography.