Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know that I have a particular fondness for painters at the edges of French Impressionism, both in terms of precursors to the Impressionist style and a range of other painters who were influenced by that style but took it in somewhat different directions, most notably the painters who are labeled “American Impressionists”.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take in a new exhibition at The Newark Museum in New Jersey that showcases works in all three categories.
Paths to Impressionism, French and American Landscape Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum opens with one of Monet’s paintings of waterlillies and features paintings from Impressionist precursors in the Barbizon School and other early exponents of en plein air landscape painting, like Camile Corot, Charles-FranÃ§ois Daubigny, Constant Troyon, Julien Dupre, Eugene Boudin (who was directly influential on Claude Monet) and Georges Michel, who was one of the first French landscape painters to make a regular practice of painting on location.
The show then moves into American painters influenced by the Barbizon school, like Joseph H. Greenwood, Jervis McEntee, John Francis Murphy and Dwight Williem Tyron. A highlight is a series of stunning small landscapes (and a few larger ones) by George Inness, who grew up in Newark and later settled in nearby Montclair, New Jersey.
As you progress through the exhibit it then presents you with a few paintings by French Impressionists, notably Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro (also here); and it moves into a gallery of American Impressionist painters for a grand finale that includes a number of striking paintings by Childe Hassam, a beautiful Sargent landscape and a small jewel by Luther Van Gorden.
It’s a beautiful show, and while not large by blockbuster museum exhibit standards, is complete enough within itself to give a very nice overview of the influences leading to and away from the nexus of artistic styles known as Impressionism.
The exhibit is nicely complimented by another exhibit at the Newark Museum called Small by Sublime: Intimate Views by Durand, Bierstadt and Inness, featuring works from the Hudson River School and Tonalist movement in the U.S; and for those like me who are visiting the Newark Museum for the first time, can be supplemented with a number of pieces to be found in the permanent collection, including landscapes by Childe Hassam and one of my favorites by Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber.
(When in the Newark Museum’s permanent collection, be prepared to be assaulted at least once by the museum’s poorly implemented proximity alarms, that hoot and screech long after you’ve removed your nose from the painting, giving you no indication of how close is too close, and leaving the poor guards to exasperatedly ask someone to move back every few minutes. Somebody at the museum needs to re-think this — mark the floor and/or set the alarms to cease as soon as the offending nose is back far enough from the painting. Fortunately, this only seems to be in place in the permanent collection, and doesn’t mar your enjoyment of the featured exhibit.)
Paths to Impressionism was organized by the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts in 2004, and traveled to The Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, and possibly other regional museums, before it’s current run in Newark (the page devoted to the exhibition on the Worcester Art Museum site is not up-to-date with the exhibition’s schedule). I don’t know where, if anywhere, it goes from here.
Paths to Impressionism, French and American Landscape Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum is at the Newark Museum until January 4, 2009. There is a catalog accompanying the exhibiton.
(Image above: Julien Dupre, Luther Van Gorden, George Inness, John Singer Sargent, Camille Pissarro, Childe Hassam)