The Appleton Museum of Art will present the exhibition “Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism Through the French Lens,” through Jan. 5, 2020.
This extraordinary exhibition, drawn mostly from the collection of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, explores the path to Impressionism through the 19th century in France. The show examines the sometimes complex relationship between French Impressionism of the 1870s and 1880s and the American interpretation of the style in the decades that followed.
More than 65 paintings and works on paper help tell the story of the “new style” of painting that developed at the end of the 19th century — one that emphasized light and atmospheric conditions, rapid or loose brushstrokes, and a focus on brightly colored scenes from everyday life, including both urban and rural settings when artists preferred to paint outdoors and capture the changing effects of light during different times of day and seasons of the year.
“Across the Atlantic” will also feature works by artists whose paintings helped pave the pathway to Impressionism such as members of the Barbizon School including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Narcisse Diaz de la Peña. Other French painters whose techniques and subjects paralleled those of the Impressionists like Charles-François Daubigny, Leon-Augustin Lhermitte, and Jean-Charles Cazin will also be examined. Many of these artists practiced painting outdoors, en plein air, a new freedom that the commercial availability of tubed paint and portable easels afforded them.
Some of the key artists featured in the exhibition include Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Victor Vignon, Albert Lebourg, among others, who exhibited in the official Impressionist exhibitions in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s. Although familiar and beloved by modern audiences in their own time, the Impressionists were thought of as a rather radical alternative to the traditions of academic painting. The progressive group of artists avoided the official, state-funded Salon in Paris and instead decided to exhibit their works in unconventional displays.
Among the earliest American artists to embrace the style were John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, Childe Hassam and Frank W. Benson, among others, whose works are included in the exhibition. American collectors and taste-makers were among the first to begin collecting Impressionist paintings.
A host of American artists, many of whom traveled to France around the turn of the century to continue their studies in fine art, embraced the style. Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, Robert Spencer, Arthur Watson Sparks, Robert Lewis Reid, William Paxton, Chauncey Ryder, Frederick John Mulhaupt and Guy Wiggins, are highlighted.
The exhibition is sponsored in part by Marion Cultural Alliance, Fine Arts for Ocala, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Art Bridges and CAMPUS USA Credit Union.