House, John 1945–

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House, John 1945–


Born April 19, 1945; son of Arthur Humphry and Madeline Edith House; married Jill Elaine, August 31, 1968; children: Adam, Joseph. Education: New College, Oxford, B.A.; Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England, M.A.; University of London, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Secondhand bookshops.


Office—Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Art historian, educator, curator, and writer. University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, England, lecturer, 1976-80; University College of London, London, England, Courtauld Institute of Art, faculty member, 1980-87, reader, 1987-95, from professor to Walter H. Annenberg Professor, 1995—, deputy director, 1996-99. Organizer, co-organizer, or curator of exhibitions, including exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, 1974; Post-Impression exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, 1979-80; Renoir exhibition at the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1985; Landscapes of France: Impressionism and Its Rivals at the Hayward Gallery, 1995; Turner Whistler Monet exhibition at the Tate in London, Grand Palais in Paris, France, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2004-05; and Impressionists by the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Phillips Collection in Washington, and Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT, 2007-08.


British Academy of Research Readership, 1988-90.


Impressionism: Its Masters, Its Precursors, and Its Influence in Britain (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts (London, England), 1974.

Monet, Phaidon (Oxford, England), 1977, 2nd revised edition, 1981.

(Editor, with Mary Anne Stevens) Post-Impressionism: Cross-Currents in European Painting, Royal Academy of Arts/Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1979.

Impressionist Masterpieces: National Gallery of Art, Washington, introduction by William James Williams, Hugh Lauther Levin Associates, 1985.

Monet: Nature into Art, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1986.

(With others) Impressionism for England: Samuel Courtauld as Patron and Collector, Courtauld Institute Galleries (London, England), 1994.

(With Ann Dumas, Jane Mayo Roos, and James F. McMillan) Impressions of France: Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Their Rivals, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), 1995.

(With Ann Dumas, Jane Mayo Roos, and James F. McMillan) Landscapes of France: Impressionism and Its Rivals, Hayward Gallery (London, England), 1995.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: La Promenade, J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.

Vincent Van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard, Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, MO)/ Rizzoli (New York, NY), 2001.

Impressionism: Paint and Politics, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2004.

(With David Hopkins) Impressionists by the Sea, Royal Academy (London, England), 2007.

Contributor to books and exhibition catalogues, including Boudin to Dufy: Impressionist and Other Masters from the Musée Des Beaux Arts, Le Havre, edited by Timothy Wilcox and Margot Heller, Scolar Press (Aldershot, Hampshire, England), 1996; Impressions of the Riviera: Monet, Renoir, Matisse and Their Contemporaries, by Kenneth Wayne, Portland Museum of Art (Portland, ME), 1998; The Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from American Collections, by Sona Johnston and Susan Bollendorf, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1999; Manet Face to Face, edited by J. Cuno and J. Kaak, Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2004; and Physiognomy in Profile: Lavater's Impact on European Culture, edited by M.H. Percival and G. Tytler, University of Delaware Press, 2005.


John House is an art historian whose interests include realist painting in nineteenth-century France and key nineteenth-century French Salon painters. He has authored, coauthored, and contributed to numerous books on art and to art exhibition catalogues, primarily focusing on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.

Impressionist Masterpieces: National Gallery of Art, Washington is a guide to Impressionist paintings held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, which include works by Degas, Manet, Pissarro, and Renoir. The author also shares numerous anecdotes about the artists and their paintings. For example, he tells the story of Renoir having his brother engage people in conversation on the streets of Paris so Renoir would have enough time to outline them on canvas for his painting "Pont Neuf, Paris." The author also writes in detail about many individual paintings, including Cezanne's bold portrait of the his father. "As a guide to that section of the museum's holdings, this book is a pleasant primer," wrote Harriet Shapiro in People. "The commentaries by House … are informal yet instructive."

In his 1986 book Monet: Nature into Art, House provides a comprehensive look at Monet's work habits as he outlines how the artist had a calculating approach to finding suitable subjects for painting. The author presents his case that Monet was intent on capturing the unifying atmosphere of the scenes that he painted, especially via his focus on the effects of light and atmospheric harmonies. The study is well-illustrated with both black-and-white pictures and color plates. Impressions of France: Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Their Rivals traces the development of French landscape painting from 1860 to 1890, a period House sees as a time of dramatic artistic evolution. Taking as his context the Paris salons, where art was displayed and discussed in detail, the author examines how the Impressionist landscapes shown there both reflected and forever changed the cultural tastes of the age.

In Impressionism: Paint and Politics, published in 2004, House shows why he is a leading authority on Impressionist painting as he offers a new view of this popular art style. In addition to examining the style and technique of Impressionism, he explores the Impressionists' subject matter and imagery, as well as exhibiting and marketing strategies used to foster this type of painting. He discusses, furthermore, Impres- sionism within its social, political, and ideological contexts. "The thesis of Impressionism: Paint and Politics is that Impressionism's development can be explained only by the changing politics of the 1870s," related James H. Rubin in the Art Bulletin. The author ultimately theorizes that Impressionism is a movement that challenged both artistic and political authority via its modern subject matter and secular worldview. House analyzes many of the leading Impressionist painters and their works with a focus on technique, composition, and imagery.

Noting that the author "provides a closely argued overview of the Impressionist movement during its most vital and innovative decades," Apollo contributor Christopher Riopelle went on to write that House "expertly plots changes in technique along the political, social, economic and of course personal timelines of his artists, and his most poignant pages may be those devoted to the artist's dawning recognition around 1880 that they no longer had much reason to stick together." Rubin called the book "beautifully designed and ambitious," adding: "I found the most value and originality to be in House's work on Impressionist marketing and exhibition strategies. This should be the topic of a book-length study, as it may have as much to do with Impressionist subject matter as politics."

House is also the author, with David Hopkins, of Impressionists by the Sea, published in 2007. This book was part of an exhibition held at the Royal Academy and elsewhere, presenting an exhibition of paintings based on the evolution of the contemporary beach scene from the early 1860s to the early 1870s. The exhibition included works by Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet, and Edouard Manet. The catalogue is divided into four sections titled "Before Impressionism," "Early Impressionism," "Beach Scenes at the Salon after 1870," and "Impressionism in the 1880s." The book includes detailed notes on the paintings and a chronology from 1847 to 1886.

In the catalogue's first essay, House writes about how new rail connections from Paris impacted peoples' travel habits and the trend to more organized leisure activities, including spending time at the beach. The author goes on to compare beach scenes painted in the 1870s and similar scenes painted nearly three decades earlier by other painters. "With liberal color reproductions and sound scholarship, this is a unique contribution to the literature," wrote Library Journal critic Ellen Bates of Impressionists by the Sea.



America, October 3, 1987, Alison Hilton, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 196.

Apollo, April, 2005, Christopher Riopelle, review of Impressionism: Paint and Politics, p. 86.

Art Bulletin, March, 1991, Richard Shiff, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 149; June, 2006, James H. Rubin, review of Impressionism: Paint and Politics, p. 399.

Art History, September, 2005, review of Impressionism.

Art in America, February, 1987, Paul Tucker, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 25.

Arts Magazine, December, 1988, Barry Schwabsky, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 111.

Choice, June, 1998, L.R. Matteson, review of Pierre-Auguste Renoir: La Promenade, p. 1696; April, 2005, E.E. Hirshler, review of Impressionism: Paint and Politics, p. 1390.

International History Review, February, 1996, Richard H. Collin, review of Impressionism for England: Samuel Courtauld as Patron and Collector, p. 168.

Library Journal, November 1, 1986, Robin Kaplan, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 88; November 15, 2007, Ellen Bates, review of Impressionists by the Sea, p. 55.

Los Angeles, December, 1985, Tom Link, "Renoir," p. 66.

New Statesman, January 9, 1987, John Spurling, review of Monet, p. 28.

New York Review of Books, April 22, 1993, Julian Barnes, "Manet: The Execution of Maximilian, Paintings, Politics and Censorship," p. 27; November 2, 1995, review of Impressions of France: Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Their Rivals, p. 44.

People, January 6, 1986, Harriet Shapiro, review of Impressionist Masterpieces: National Gallery of Art, Washington, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, October 10, 1986, review of Monet: Nature into Art, p. 58.

Times Higher Education Supplement, February 5, 1999, Tom Rosenthal, "Monet in the 20th Century," p. 21

Times Literary Supplement, June 16, 1995, review of Landscapes of France: Impressionism and Its Rivals, p. 20.


Courtauld Institute of Art Web site, (April 14, 2008), faculty profile of John House.