This refreshingly direct study addresses 19th-century European art along with the forces that informed it. After introducing historical events and cultural and artistic trends from about 1760 that would exert their influence well into the new century, author Petra ten-Doesschate Chu discusses the advent of Modernism and its many interpretations. She considers the changing relationship between artist and audience; evolving attitudes toward the depiction of nature; and the confrontation of European artists with non-Western art due to expanding trade and travel. An impressive 550 illustrations-200 in full color-illustrate her themes.
Incidents from individual artists' lives enrich the reader's understanding of the art, as do sidebars that focus on specific works, techniques, or historical circumstances. Although painting and sculpture are central in her narrative, Chu also covers a broad scope of visual culture, including architecture, decorative arts, and the burgeoning fields of photography and graphic design. A timeline, glossary, and thorough bibliography, listing not only books but also films related to the period, complete this major achievement.