While admiring the collections of French impressionist paintings in American galleries, it is easy to think of them as evidence of the wealth of US society. And so they are in part, but it is also the case that many of the works were purchased at the time they were painted, directly from the artists. There were collectors and curators who visited the artists in France, backing their own judgement as to the worth of these experimental and revolutionary works. Products of that glorious period will be on show (4 Jun. – 3 Oct.) at the National Gallery of Victoria in French Impressionism from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
More than 100 works, 79 of which have never before been exhibited in Australia, will be shown exclusively at the NGV. They will include significant works by Monet, Renoir, Degas and Pissarro, together their artistic forebear Eugène Boudin and those by Mary Cassatt, an American-born artist who is described as integral to the French Impressionist movement and who advocated among fellow Americans for their patronage of her French colleagues.
A promised highlight is a display of sixteen canvases by Claude Monet, in an immersive arrangement intended to be reminiscent of the remarkable oval gallery designed for his famous Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris; his gift to the nation as a balm after the horrors of World War I. Included will be Monet’s scenes of the Normandy coast and Giverny.
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