We gave it a C+
In the history of art, the Impessionists are perhaps the most widely known band of rogue painters. In 2006, it’s hard to believe that the oily pigments slapped onto canvas with immediate and thrilling brushstrokes by the likes of Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Marie Cassatt were derided by late 19th-century viewers who flocked to the Paris Salon’s annual blockbuster exhibition. Equally stunning is the fact that none of this crew made any money. Sue Roe does offer some oddly irrelevant facts about her subjects in The Private Lives of the Impressionists (Monet had parquet floors in one of his flats, Edouard Manet’s brother once stopped for hot cocoa for 11 minutes at a train station), but her disjointed cobbling together of immense research leaves disappointingly little impression about the actual inner lives of these beloved artists or what motivated them to live a life of passionate struggle.