The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) will present a major exhibition of more than 100 masterworks of French Impressionism in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), an institution renowned worldwide for its rich holdings of Impressionist paintings.
Opening as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series, French Impressionism will feature works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt and more – including 79 that have never-before-been exhibited in Australia. These important loans from the MFA’s iconic collection provide the rare opportunity to see a significant grouping of Impressionist masterworks in Australia.
French Impressionism will chart the trajectory of the late-nineteenth century artistic movement, highlighting the key milestones and figures at the centre of this period of experimentation and revolution in modern art. Through an arresting display of paintings and works on paper that showcases the breadth of the movement, the exhibition will evoke the artistic energy and intellectual dynamism of the period by placing emphasis on the thoughts and observations of the artists themselves, revealing the social connections, artistic influences and personal relationships that united the group of radical practitioners at the centre of this new art movement.
Presented thematically across ten sections, the exhibition will open with early works by Monet and his forebears, Eugène Boudin and painters of the Barbizon School, illustrating their profound influence on Monet’s use of the then radical method of painting outdoors en plein air (‘in the open air’) to capture changing conditions in nature.
The growth of the movement in subsequent decades is mapped through an exploration of the favoured subjects and ideas of the Impressionists. Moving through an immersive exhibition design, audiences will experience the hallmarks of Impressionism, including distinctive brushwork, unique points of view, arresting use of colour, as well as places dear to the artists, such as Paris, Fontainebleau Forest, Pontoise, Giverny, the Normandy coast and the South of France. Many artists also placed equal weight on recording movement and change in urban and domestic realms. Still life paintings, intimate interiors and street scenes by such artists as Manet, Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte will also feature.
An exhibition highlight will be a breathtaking display of sixteen canvases by Claude Monet, arranged in an immersive display reminiscent of the distinctive, oval gallery Monet helped design for his famous Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, between 1922 and his death in 1926. Painted over a thirty-year period, these paintings depict many of Monet’s most beloved scenes of nature in Argenteuil, the Normandy coast, the Mediterranean coast and his extraordinary garden in Giverny. Together, these paintings demonstrate the full scope of the artist’s immeasurable contribution to the Impressionist movement.
‘We are delighted to share these iconic works with the people of Australia, so that they may experience this transformational moment in the history of art. French Impressionism highlights artists and their relationships, their shared ambition and mutual support—ideals that are reflected in our relationship with the National Gallery of Victoria. We are grateful to their extraordinary team for creating a beautiful showcase for our treasured works. Our mutual endeavor has been one of vision, creativity and collaboration. This exhibition is a joyous celebration of our connections and a reminder that individuals and institutions thrive through reciprocity and generosity," said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, said
See French Impressionism hosted by National Gallery of Victoria in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Location: NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Dates: Post-lockdown, new opening day to be announced. Planned 4 June to 3 October 2021