Colin B. Bailey is Director of the Morgan Library and Museum. His books include Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary 
Paris, which was awarded the 2004 Mitchell Prize, and Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting. (December 2019)


In Plain Sight

Édouard Manet: Olympia, 1863

Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today

an exhibition at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York City, October 24, 2018–February 10, 2019

Le Modèle noir de Géricault à Matisse

an exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, March 26–July 21, 2019; and the Mémorial ACTe, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, September 13–December 29, 2019
In the spring of 1985 The New York Review published Françoise Cachin’s hostile review of T.J. Clark’s The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers. Cachin, the founding director of the Musée d’Orsay, who in 1983 had been responsible for the exhibition at the …

The Rake’s Progress

Jean-Honoré Fragonard: The Desired Moment, circa 1770

Casanova’s Europe: Art, Pleasure, and Power in the Eighteenth Century

an exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, August 27–December 31, 2017; the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, February 10–May 28, 2018; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 8–October 8, 2018

Casanova: The Seduction of Europe

Catalog of the exhibition edited by Frederick Ilchman, Thomas Michie, C.D. Dickerson III, and Esther Bell
“He would have been a very handsome man had he not been so ugly,” noted Casanova’s friend and fellow bel esprit Prince Charles-Joseph de Ligne, who knew him only at the end of his life. “He is large, as well-built as Hercules, but with the coloring of an African.” This …

The Steely Connoisseur

Pablo Picasso: Portrait of Paul Rosenberg, 1918–1919

21 rue La Boétie

an exhibition at the Musée de La Boverie de Liège, September 22, 2016–February 19, 2017; and the Musée Maillol, Paris, March 2–July 23, 2017
The Belgian city of Liège was a fitting location to inaugurate the riveting exhibition “21 rue La Boétie.” At the sale in Lucerne in June 1939 of 125 works of “degenerate” art deaccessioned from German museums, Liège acquired nine outstanding paintings, including works by Gauguin, Ensor, Marc, and Picasso, for …

Fragonard: The Heights of Drawing

Jean-Honoré Fragonard: A Gathering at Wood’s Edge, circa 1770–1773

Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant—Works from New York Collections

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, October 6, 2016–January 8, 2017
In a letter of June 1847 to Théophile Thoré, the art critic responsible for the rediscovery of Vermeer, the grandson of Jean-Honoré Fragonard wrote that whenever his grandfather’s work appeared at auction and his name was announced, “Those sympathetic to his art would hear ‘People, pay honour to Fragonard!’ [Gens, …

Hubert Robert & the Joy of Ruins

Hubert Robert; painting by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1788

Hubert Robert, 1733–1808

an exhibition at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, March 9–May 30, 2016; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., June 26–October 2, 2016
Currently on view at the National Gallery of Art, a retrospective of the work of Hubert Robert is the first of this prolific, protean, and outstandingly inventive eighteenth-century artist to be mounted in America. It is a reduced version of the more comprehensive exhibition that was shown in Paris last …

How He Ruled Art

Paul Durand-Ruel in his gallery, Paris, circa 1910

Paul Durand-Ruel: Memoirs of the First Impressionist Art Dealer (1831–1922)

revised, corrected, and annotated by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, and translated from the French by Deke Dusinberre

Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market

Catalog of a recent exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, the National Gallery, London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
We needed a reactionary to defend our painting, which Salon-goers said was revolutionary. Here was one person, at least, who was unlikely to be shot as a Communard! Renoir’s remark—as well as his affectionate portrait, painted in 1910—introduces Paul Durand-Ruel as the least likely champion of avant-garde French painting in …


Fragonard’s Merry Company

Jean Honoré Fragonard: Woman with a Dog, c. 1769

In Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “fantasy portraits,” his congenial sitters are caught mid-stream in a range of pleasurable, intimate activities. The spontaneity and speed of his performance are palpable: hues are blended wet on wet; brush strokes retain their traces; the tip of his brush inscribes zig-zag scribbles deep into the impasto of ruffs, collerettes, and sleeves.

‘Manet Paints Monet’

 Édouard Manet: Olympia, 1863

Monet’s influence is crucial to what Willibald Sauerländer considers to be Manet’s “conversion” to Impressionism. Yet their acquaintance was not always amiable. Two paintings made by Manet in the summer of 1874 are the subject of Sauerländer’s new book, Manet Paints Monet: A Summer in Argenteuil, which Colin B. Bailey reviews in The New York Review’s April 23 issue.