Artist Henri Matisse once observed that creativity requires courage. That insight is proved true in noted biographer Jeffrey Meyers' refreshing quadruple portrait, Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt. With an acute eye, Meyers offers us an unusual glimpse into these four artists' intertwined lives and tumultuous careers in 19th-century Paris. Both Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas, the two leading lights of the controversial Impressionist movement, cultivated close ties with two gifted women painters: Manet, with Berthe Morisot; Degas with American-born Mary Cassatt. These relationships, Meyers writes, inspired and influenced each other's work; they shared models, patrons, dealers, and vital information on how to conduct the business of art. In a courageous departure from the norm of art criticism, Meyers' Quartet employs his own fresh look at the art . . . [describing] exactly what I see . . . within the context of the artist's life and time, what's happening in the paintings, and what they mean. Though this might be an ingenuous approach one that risks a banality of language in the attempt to interpret the elusive nuances of brushstrokes and subject matter Meyers' focus works nicely, reinforced as it is by his revelations about each artist's life, and their thematic and relational influences upon one another.

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