Painting: Rediscovered Riches

Nineteenth century French painting has never fitted neatly into art historians' annals. It was a century of variety and contradictions, blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Every decade had its transcendent master—David, Ingres, Delacroix, Courbet, Corot, Manet, Cézanne—whose force of personality outshone multitudes of minor but thoroughly accomplished painters. One artistic ism followed another, as Neo-classicism yielded to Romanticism, Realism to Impressionism.

All this is reflected in a sumptuous summer-long exhibition entitled "The Past Rediscovered: French Painting 1800-1900" at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The show provides a rare opportunity for...

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