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April 09, 1984 12:00 PM

by Robert Rosenblum and H.W. Janson

It would be easy to spend weeks just gazing at these 502 illustrations, 89 of them in deep, rich color. But it is also a thoroughly indexed volume with an extensive bibliography. And it is written in lucid, vivid prose by two esteemed art historians who were New York University faculty colleagues (Janson died in 1982). “Throughout the 1870s and 1880s,” Rosenblum writes, “the Realist impulse to record the facts of a here-and-now world continued to dominate painters working both in the most adventurous styles of Impressionism and in the more conservative modes taught by the academies. And the range of subject matter, from miserable city slums’ to fashionable boulevards, from the regimented activities of schools and sweatshops to the leisurely movements of cafés and wealthy drawing rooms, also expanded to match the complexities of 19th-century life.” (Abrams, $45)

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