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Impressionists: The Other French Revolution, The
From the producers of A&E's acclaimed Biography series comes a groundbreaking look at the figures behind the other French Revolution.
Vol. 1: Today, their art draws record-breaking crowds to museums and fetches millions of dollars at auction. Yet critics once derided the same paintings as scandalous, ridiculous and even just plain ugly. The Impressionists opens with a look at the men who formed the core of the movement: Degas, Pissarro, Renoir and Monet. Despite their disparate backgrounds and temperaments, they were drawn together by a belief that painting needed to change, and they worked together--and fought with one another--to define what shape that transformation should take. 50 minutes
Vol. 2: Without a presence in the prestigious annual Salon, the Impressionists were doomed to financial struggle. Though they occasionally succumbed to fits of depression--in 1866, Monet made a half-hearted suicide attempt--their innovative approach to painting attracted new adherents, including Berthe Morisot, the first female member of the movement. Then, in October 1869, Monet and Renoir began setting up their easels near a popular Paris swimming spot. Painting rapidly, using short strokes, commas and dots, they strove to capture the feel of a fleeting moment--the shimmer of water, the movement of a bather. These canvases, considered by many to be the first purely Impressionist works, are showcased in this episode. 50 minutes.
Vol. 3: The Franco-Prussian war in 1870 claimed the life of 29-year-old Frederic Bazille, and Camille Pissarro returned from London to find that soldiers had occupied his house and destroyed over 1,500 paintings and sketches. But the movement persevered, and 1871 saw the first of their self-organized exhibitions (in response to the Salon's continuing rejection of their work) and the opening of a gallery on Rue Lafitte dedicated to Impressionist art. Unfortunately, neither was well received, and the mounting failures led to a rift between Degas and the others. 50 minutes.
Vol. 4: The success that had long eluded the Impressionists finally arrived in 1886, but they had to cross the Atlantic to find it. That year, Durand-Ruel, the dealer who had championed them since opening his gallery in 1871, arranged for a showing of their work in New York City. It proved to be the breakthrough they had long sought. Just a few years, their paintings were finally selling in France, and they were at last able to enjoy the rewards of their long labors. 50 minutes.