T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers (London, 1984)
The Paris of the 1860 s and 1870 s was supposedly a brand new city, equipped with boulevards, cafes, parks and suburban pleasure grounds – the birthplace of those habits of commerce that constitute modern life. Questioning those who view Impressionism solely in terms of artistic technique, T.J. Clark describes the painting of Manet, Degas, Seurat and others as an attempt to give form to that modernity and seek out its typical representatives – be they barmaids, boaters, prostitutes, sightseers or petits bourgeois lunching on the grass. The central question of the book is this: did modern painting as it came into being celebrate the consumer – oriented culture of the Paris of Napoleon III, or open it to critical scrutiny ? The revised edition of this classic book includes a new preface by the author.