Indepth Arts News: |
"The Impressionists at Argenteuil"
2000-05-28 until 2000-08-20
National Gallery of Art
USA United States of America
Bringing together more than fifty paintings, including many rarely seen outside
private collections, The Impressionists at Argenteuil is the first exhibition to examine the seminal role of
the small suburban town of Argenteuil in the development of the impressionist movement. The exhibition
is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, where it will be on view 20 May - 20 August
2000, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, where it will be shown 9 September - 3
December 2000. With special emphasis on canvases by Claude Monet, who as an Argenteuil resident
became the focus of the group, the presentation includes colorful, evocative works by his avant-garde
colleagues, Eugène Boudin, Gustave Caillebotte, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. In the
1870s, these six influential artists worked in the open air, often side by side, recording scenes in and
around Argenteuil. Their innovative paintings made Argenteuil synonymous with the style that became
known as impressionism, characterized by broken brushwork and divided light and color.
The dazzling, lyrical paintings that make up this exhibition reflect the richness of the impressionists'
responses to the Argenteuil site and the complex dialogue that developed among them as they studied and
depicted similar motifs and subjects, said Earl A. Powell lll, director National Gallery of Art. We are
extremely grateful to United Technologies Corporation for its support.
The works of Monet, Manet, and Renoir are as recognized as any in our world today. We are pleased to
sponsor this exhibition of the paintings of these and other renowned impressionist masters, including
many works held in private collections and rarely seen by the public, said George David, chairman of
United Technologies Corporation. We hope and intend the show to appeal to a wide and interested
audience. The Impressionists at Argenteuil will be the sixth exhibition sponsored by UTC at the
National Gallery of Art. Previous exhibitions include The Victorians: British Painting in the Reign of
Queen Victoria 1837-1901 in 1997 and Johannes Vermeer in 1995/1996.
Monet first settled in Argenteuil, a fifteen-minute train ride from the Gare Saint-Lazare in the heart of
Paris, in 1871. During his six years there, his impressionist colleagues came to visit, commune, and paint
alongside him. Their broken brushwork, heightened color, irregular surfaces, and a sense of fleeting
effects gave physical expression to Argenteuil's towpaths and railway bridges, gardens and factories,
sailboats and regattas, and each other and their families. Frustrated by the traditional system of judging
and exhibiting works of art in the official Salons each year, the avant-garde artists placed shared goals
ahead of individual differences, meeting at Monet's house to lay plans for the independent group show that
introduced impressionism in 1874. Examples of their finest canvases highlight the present exhibition.
Monet was not only the central figure in the movement but also the most prolific painter in Argenteuil,
completing more than sixty canvases in 1872 alone. Time and again during these pivotal years Monet
stood beside one of his artist friends rendering the same scene, such as the Boulevard Héloise with Sisley
or a regatta with Renoir. Among the most celebrated pairs in the exhibition, two versions of Sailboats at
Argenteuil were painted by Monet and Renoir, each from the same vantage point in 1874, but differing in
details that reflect the individual artist's personality and ideas. Another shared theme is the clump of trees
that appears both in Boudin's riverfront view, The Seine at Argenteuil (c. 1866), and at the end of the
towpath in Monet's painting from upriver, The Promenade at Argenteuil (c. 1872).
Other highlights include Caillebotte's imaginative rendering of Richard Gallo and His Dog Dick at Petit
Gennevilliers (1884) and his characteristically forthright image of a distillery, Factories at Argenteuil
(1888). Equally meticulous depictions by Caillebotte and Monet of the highway bridge that crosses the
Seine into Argenteuil are also on view. Monet's two sunlit views of The Railroad Bridge at Argenteuil
(both 1874), a structure that was expeditiously rebuilt after being destroyed in the Franco-Prussian War,
contrast with several lush canvases in which he documented his house, garden, and family in the small
town. Particularly memorable is his celebrated Woman with a Parasol–Madame Monet and Her Son
(1875), from the National Gallery of Art's collection. Several paintings by Renoir of Monet and his family
are among the notable portraits. Manet's view of Monet in his studio boat is an aquatic version of Renoir's
portrait of Monet painting in his garden.
Guest curator for The Impressionists at Argenteuil is noted Monet scholar Paul Hayes Tucker. Philip
Conisbee, the National Gallery's senior curator of European paintings, coordinated the exhibition in