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Archive for the ‘Impressionism’ Category

This post comes to us from Gina Ciralli, Curatorial Intern.

Church at Old Lyme, 1905. Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 32 1/4 in. Abright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

“What he loved best were the pastures of Southern New England in the later autumn after the deciduous trees had shed their leaves and great white oaks and graceful birches stood singly or in groups on gently rolling meadows or moorlands with here and there a glacial boulder or granite ledge out-cropping above the soil.” – Artist Nelson C. White about his father Henry C. White, 1954

Nelson Holbrook White’s (b. 1932) survey exhibition Scenic Spirit is currently on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  Nelson’s grandfather, Henry Cooke White (1861-1952) was an acclaimed American painter and member of one of America’s most distinguished art colonies in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  From Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935) to Willard L. Metcalf (1858-1925), the colony comprised upwards of 200 artists during its three decades of creating nature-based scenes in oils and pastels.  Inspired by French artists Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), the colony defined American Impressionism by commemorating the tranquil aspects of rural New England life through use of vibrant palettes and broken strokes on wood and canvas.

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This post comes to us from Sara Cotter, Curatorial Intern.

Taking the Veil, 1863, Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889). Oil on canvas, 49 1/2 x 39 3/4 in. Yale University Art Gallery.

The works included in the exhibition, The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art, which will be on view in the McKernan Gallery from June 30th until September 30th, illustrates the influence that travel and study in Europe had on the developing art of America in the 19th century. This phenomenon is exemplified by the work of the three Weirs represented: Robert Walter Weir and his sons, John Ferguson Weir and Julian Alden Weir. All three men studied in Europe as part of their artistic training and subsequently had long and successful careers back home in America, as artists and art instructors. The Weir dynasty represents almost a century of artistic production, during which major changes were occurring in the nature of American art and its relationship to the art centers of Europe – changes in which the Weirs figured prominently.

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This post comes to us from Sara Cotter, Curatorial Intern.

Bust Portrait of Military Officer with Beard, ca. 1860, Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889). Oil on canvas, 27 x 22 in. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

All three of the Weirs represented in the exhibition, The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding Traditions in American Art (on view in the McKernan Gallery from June 30th until September 30th) had a profound impact on the development of American art education in the 19th century. Robert Walter Weir, John Ferguson Weir and Julian Alden Weir all served as art instructors to the generation of young artists who defined American art in the 19th century and into the 20th, and who established this country’s reputation internationally. Robert, the patriarch of the family, was the head Drawing Instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for forty-two years, John became the first Director of the School of Fine Arts at Yale University, and Julian, armed with his formal training from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, served as an art instructor at several institutions after returning to America. The Weirs were undoubtedly influenced in their teaching by the unique position between America and Europe that they held in their own painting careers, and by the curious mix of old and new sources they were exposed to during their travels abroad.

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October Landscape, 1923. Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930). Oil on canvas board, 30 1/8 x 24 7/8 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Olga H. Knoepke, 1992.37

The understanding of sensation, perception, and what it meant to portray reality changed dramatically throughout the late 19th century, beginning with the Impressionist movement in France. Impressionism prioritized the individual eye over the disembodied subject of the anonymous viewing body. The theory behind the movement was all about offering a unique experience, a temporary moment, and an individual artist’s perspective. Canvases were meant to be direct translations of perceptions experienced in nature. Despite heavy initial resistance from the art establishment, Impressionist art has come to be praised for removing the burdening, dry weight of bourgeois politics in order to experience nature more directly and immediately. One was not to play into hierarchy, but rather to experience unaltered, reaction between artist and environment. Through the direct representation of the artist’s reaction, the Impressionists captured one moment of temporal, specific perception including those of the middle and lower classes of modern France.

What is often forgotten is the fact that French Impressionism, often mistaken for Impressionism at large, incorporated the beliefs, theories, and politics of one group of mostly Parisian men. Impressionism as theory and practice traveled across the Atlantic quite successfully. In the United States, it flourished among budding art colonies including Provincetown, Massachusetts, Old Lyme, Connecticut, and Shinnecock, Long Island. These art-driven townships were popular destinations and subject-settings for American Impressionists, as they boasted brilliant sunshine, luscious landscape, and sea-soaked shores.

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Charles W. Hawthorne sketching with his class, Provincetown, MA

One week from today, the NBMAA will open its newest exhibition The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America’s Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899-2011). With the installation well under way, we have stopped to consider one seemingly elemental, though crucial  question that quietly lurks behind the very title of the show. That question of course being, “Well, what exactly is an art colony?” The short answer is simply that an art colony is a community where artists of all kinds congregate to live, learn, and practice. A  kind of getaway destination for “long-term professional development.” Today, art colonies are vigorously sought after and provide an opportunity for artists to share and evolve their ideas, away from general distractions of the everyday.

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Poster for the Universelle Exposition de 1889, Paris

Poster for the Exposition Universelle de 1889, Paris

Just a few days ago, the NBMAA purcahsed a full-scale, life-sized portrait of Emeline Arnold Souther (Mrs. Edmund Charles Tarbell.) Edmund Charles Tarbell painted this masterpiece early on in their relationship, in fact it was painted in the year they were married (1888) right before he became a teacher for several decades at the Boston Museum School. Mrs. T’s elegance and poise are a pristine example of Tarbell’s early career, transitioning from magazine illustrations to portraits. This painting was featured in the notable Exposition Universelle “World’s Fair” of 1889 in Paris. (more…)

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Frederick Carl Frieseke, The Green Parasol, 1915, Oil on Canvas, 31 3/4 x 32 in. The Jack Warner Collection.

The Green Parasol, 1915. Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939). Oil on Canvas, 31 3/4 x 32 in. The Jack Warner Collection.

One of the main artists featured in the upcoming exhibition An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Art is Frederick Carl Frieseke. Born in Michigan, he studied at The Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1893. Afterwards he went to the Art Students League in New York City in 1897, until he finally traveled to Paris in 1898. Abroad, he developed and refined his style. In Paris Frieseke studied at the Académie Julien and at the Académie Carmen under James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) for a brief period. (more…)

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