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Art in an Age of Civil Struggle, 1848-1871

From the European revolutions of 1848 through the Italian independence movement, the American Civil War, and the French Commune, the era Albert Boime explores in this fourth volume of his epic series was, in a word, transformative. The period, which gave rise to such luminaries as Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, was also characterized by civic upheaval, quantum leaps in science and technology, and the increasing secularization of intellectual pursuits and ordinary life. In a sweeping narrative that adds critical depth to a key epoch in modern art’s history, Art in an Age of Civil Struggle shows how this turbulent social environment served as an incubator for the mid-nineteenth century’s most important artists and writers.

Tracing the various movements of realism through the major metropolitan centers of Europe and America, Boime strikingly evokes the milieus that shaped the lives and works of Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Émile Zola, Honoré Daumier, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the earliest photographers, among countless others. In doing so, he spearheads a powerful new way of reassessing how art emerges from the welter of cultural and political events and the artist’s struggle to interpret his surroundings. Boime supports this multifaceted approach with a wealth of illustrations and written sources that demonstrate the intimate links between visual culture and social change. Culminating at the transition to impressionism, Art in an Age of Civil Struggle makes historical sense of a movement that paved the way for avant-garde aesthetics and, more broadly, of how a particular style emerges at a particular moment.

784 pages | 385 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 | © 2008

A Social History of Modern Art

Art: Art Criticism, Art--General Studies


“A powerful and original successor to the previous volumes in a series that has become indispensable to all those of us who teach or study nineteenth-century art.”

Stephen Eisenman, Northwestern University

“True to form in his extraordinary series on the social history of modern art, Art in an Age of Civil Struggle extends into the late nineteenth century Albert Boime’s commanding perspective on the dynamics of cultural development within the nascent industrial and capitalist democratic societies of Europe and the United States. Boime’s now-indispensable erudition and scholarship are always accessible and enjoyable, fostering a sense of the reader’s participation in this art historical journey toward explanations of a social and cultural order increasingly familiar to us now in ours. His brilliant achievement as a teacher and writer is to show how, in the end, this history has led to where we are now.”

Jonathan Harris, University of Liverpool

Table of Contents

    1      Springtime and Winter of the People in France, 1848–1852
    2      Radical Realism and Its Offspring
    3      Radical Realism Continued
    4      The Pre-Raphaelites and the 1848 Revolutions
    5      The Macchia and the Risorgimento
    6      Cultural Inflections of Slavery and Manifest Destiny in America
    7      Biedermeier Culture and the Revolutions of 1848
    8      The Second Empire’s Official Realism
    9      Edouard Manet: Man About Town
  10      The Franco-Prussian War, the French Commune, and the Threshold of Impressionism
            Coda: Menzel and the Transition to Empire
            Photo Credits

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