Romanticism, realism, impressionism—today these are the most important stylistic labels for French painting during the nineteenth century. Though celebrated today as precursors to modernism, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, and many others were highly controversial figures in their time for their departures from neoclassical methods. On the other hand, salon painters who were highly regarded during the nineteenth century—like Meissonier, Cabanel, and Bouguereau—have been consigned to the fringes of art history today.
This unique volume juxtaposes these reformers of painting and their more traditional counterparts, offering a discriminating look at the controversial styles in French painting between 1820 and 1880, as well as the developments within more conventional genres. Exploring the parallels, diversity, and contradictions in the practice and reception of French painting, Praised and Ridiculed shows the outstanding role played by both experimental and neoclassical painters during the nineteenth century.