Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Americans in Paris

Americans In Paris
Say what you will, but as far as I’m concerned, Paris is the capital of the world.

Well, if we have any pride in ourselves as human beings, it should be. There may be other cities that could lay claim to that title on the basis of commerce, power, wealth or sheer size, but Paris, if aliens were to come down and ask, represents what a beautiful, entrancing, inspirational, livable, colorful and spectacularly glorious city we humans can make if we set our minds to it and back it up with our finest craftsmen, architects, designers and artists.

Little wonder it has been attracting the attention of artists for generations, particularly American artists in the latter half of the 19th Century, who flocked there for inspiration, instruction and to connect with the planet’s glowing center of art and culture.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (a city that is no slouch when it comes to culture but, sorry, isn’t in the same league with Paris), is hosting an absolutely wonderful exhibit of some of the American painters who went to Paris at that time to study and exhibit, in other words, some of the best American painters ever. This list includes many of the painters I particularly admire because they fit into the area of “realism under the influence of Impressionism” that I really enjoy.

The show is called Americans in Paris and is a spectacularly high-level show, featuring great works by John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, James McNeil Whistler, Celia Beaux, John Henry Twatchman, Charles Courtney Curran, J. Alden Weir, Robert Vonnoh, John White Alexander, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, William Metcalf, Charles Sprague Pearce, Charles Edmund Tarbell and more.

Wow.

(Image above, clockwise from top-left: Sargent, Alexander, Curran, Pearce, Hassam, Whistler.)

The exhibit not only features these great artists, but many are represented by some of their best works, including several paintings that I have wanted to see in person for years, like Sargent’s stunning group portrait of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and Fishing for Oysters at Cancale (the small version), Alexander’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil (that I show here), Hassam’s Grand Prix Day and unexpected delights like Charles Curran’s Afternoon in the Cluny Garden, Paris, Harry van der Weyden’s Morning Labor on the Seine and several amazing little paintings by Charles Sprague Pearce.

The show runs from yesterday, October 24th, 2006, to January 28, 2007. I plan to see it again if I can. Short of traveling to Paris (sigh), it’s as close as I can get in terms of inspiration for this American.

[Addendum, 2012: Americans in Paris archive at the Met is now here.]

6 thoughts on “Americans in Paris

  1. catnapping

    I’ve never heard of Hassam, but I can see he will be a new favorite. (I’ve never taken art, so I’m ignorant.) I’m grateful for your blog, and I’m bookmarking you in my reference file for Art info.
    Thank you.

  2. Katherine Tyrrell

    Having seen this exhibition when it was at the National Gallery in London I can confirm that it is certainly a “must not miss”.

    When I saw it, notable portraits for me included four by Singer Sergent – the Boit girls, the infamous Madame X portrait, his the portrait of Monet painting in the woods and a wonderful one od Carolus Duras.

    Also do not miss the 8 out of 10 paintings in the At Home in Paris section – all by that equally excellent painter Mary Cassatt.

    I think some of the paintings may be different. I’m not sure I saw all the ones displayed in the online exhibition and it seems to be missing Whistler’s Mother, which we had in the exhibition in London.

  3. Gaylynn Robinson

    I am tickled to have found your blog. I agree with you about Paris. I have been twice and absolutly LOVE going to the museums. Especially the d’Orsay and the Marmottan (which is like the Frick in NYC). They are my favorites because I love the impressionist. The Marmottan has lots of Monet’s and wonderful Berthe Morrisot’s. I also enjoy going to the Met when in NYC to sit in the American wing and just study the Sargents, Hassams, Whistler, and many others. I go to my own museums in Cincinnati to see the Twatchman and Duveneck’s. Your list of favorite artist is very similar to mine. I will look up those that I am not familiar with. Thanks for a wonderful site to visit and the art history lessons.

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