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"Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from American Collections"
2000-03-25 until 2000-05-07
Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Houston, TX, USA United States of America

Faces of Impressionism, the first major exhibition to focus on portraits by masters of Impressionism, reveals how these works transformed the genre of portraiture. Previously, the primary purpose of portraiture had been to represent historical figures; artists were commissioned to paint flattering likenesses of their subjects. By contrast, many Impressionist portraits show ordinary people in informal poses engaged in everyday activities, allowing a glimpse into the social context of this influential circle of artists. Depicting friends, family, patrons, public figures, and the artists themselves, portraits by Impressionists range from tightly rendered portrayals to light-filled, loosely brushed paintings.

Faces of Impressionism spans more than 50 years of art history and includes 60 works of probing individual and group portraits, figures in landscape settings, and self-portraits.

The complex associations between artist and subject are also shown. For example, Auguste Renoir's depiction of Claude Monet at work at his easel shows the mutual admiration and respect the artists had for each other. Edgar Degas's probing likenesses of family members expose inner psychological issues, as do Paul Cezanne's images of his wife. Later works by Cezanne and Paul Gauguin anticipate the developments of the 20th century and the notion of the portrait as a mirror reflecting the essence of the personality.

This exhibition is organized and circulated by The Baltimore Museum of Art. Funding in Houston is generously provided by Shell Oil Company Foundation.


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