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"A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches"
2000-09-12 until 2000-11-12
Frick Collection
New York, NY, USA

New York audiences will have a unique opportunity this fall to see a remarkable collection of small-scale landscape oil sketches that are on public view for the first time. A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches is on display at The Frick Collection from September 12 through November 12, 2000, the second stop in a tour which originated in 1999 at London's National Gallery amid critical acclaim. The exhibition will later go to other venues including The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee.

Created by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century artists working out of doors, these plein-air sketches were painted quickly -- the artists often spent no more than two hours on a work -- and attempted to capture subtle atmospheric effects and the fleeting play of light. The pictures, many painted on paper, were not conceived of as finished works of arts, but offered an opportunity to test and sharpen skills. These sketches were rarely, if ever, exhibited during the painters' lifetimes, and were often kept in the studio for later consultation. Nonetheless, such works played a vital role in the visual training of generations of European artists, and by the end of the eighteenth century, the art of sketching in oil had become recognized by artists as a valid occupation in its own right. This exhibition represents an important milestone in the study and understanding of the painted oil sketch in the European tradition.

The collecting of these landscape oil sketches was pioneered by the distinguished art historians John and Charlotte Gere as recently as 1950, when they began to gather these intimate and compelling documents of artists at work. Today, this growing body of work represents one the most comprehensive collections of its type. The exhibition A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches features approximately sixty works and is coordinated for The Frick Collection by Associate Curator Susan Grace Galassi. Following the New York showing, the works return to the National Gallery in London, where they will ultimately reside on long-term loan. Support for the exhibition in New York is provided, in part, through the generosity of the Fellows of The Frick Collection.

The majority of the works in the Gere Collection and in A Brush with Nature are scenic views of Italy painted by British, French, Italian, German, Belgian, and Scandinavian artists. The presentation features works by such admired figures as Edouard Bertin (1797-1871), Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), Giovanni-Battista Camuccini (1819-1902), Gilles-François-Joseph Closson (1798-1842), Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Simon Denis (1755-1812), Giuseppe De Nittis (1846-1884), Louis Gauffier (1762-1801), André Giroux (1801-1879), François-Marius Granet (1775-1849), Thomas Jones (1742-1803), Frederic, Baron Leighton of Stretton (1830-1896), and Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819).

An illustrated catalogue with two essays provides a background to the collection: Charlotte Gere's memoir charts its formation, while an essay by Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Nineteenth-century Painting at the National Gallery, traces the development of the plein-air oil sketch and its place in European painting.

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