Because of recent renovations of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., a number of world famous pieces and exhibits have made their way around the world on tour.
The “Intimate Impressionism” exhibit has made its way from Washington D.C. to the McNay Art Museum in downtown San Antonio.
San Antonio was one of only five cities selected to host these exhibitions, the others being San Francisco, Seattle, Rome and Tokyo.
The McNay opened its doors to these treasured pieces on Sept. 3, 2014.
Named “Intimate Impressionism” for its focus on small landscape portraits, the exhibit features works of art that were once mocked for their disastrous quality.
Impressionism emerged in early 19th-century France and the movement was unlike anything seen before. The artwork had clear characteristics of impressionism, combining dab-like brush strokes, brilliant use of color and illuminating light to create masterpieces. The subject matter focused largely on portraits of friends, family and loved ones, as well as landscapes and everyday life.
Artists of the impressionist movement did not follow traditional standards of art but instead focused on creating a new standard.
The “Intimate Impressionism” exhibit at the McNay captures the exact essence of the impressionist era, featuring numerous pieces from visionaries such as Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet and Édouard Vuillard. The exhibit has approximately 70 pieces of everyday life and subject matter, arranged to complement one another.
One of the most notable and eye-catching pieces, “Madame Henriot,” comes from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of several impressionist artists from the 19th century to develop the movement.
In his 1876 painting of Madame Henriot, Renoir uses oil on canvas to capture light in the young girl’s face and body. Madame Henriot looks almost angelic in a white dress against her pale skin and is a truly beautiful subject.
Renoir remains true to the Impressionist movement by focusing on simple scenery featuring familiar faces. In his 1874 painting, “Madame Monet and Her Son,” Renoir uses vibrant greens in the background to offset subtle shades of blue and white in Madame Monet and her son’s attire. The world-renowned piece is easily recognizable – and for good reason. It embodies the energy of the impressionist movement and is a must-see.
Another big piece to make its way to San Antonio is Berthe Morisot’s 1869 portrait, “The Artist’s Sister at a Window.” The piece features a young girl sitting in a large chair, staring down into her hands. The piece is a perfect representation of the impressionist era, featuring a luminous white shade in the young girl’s dress and the window frame. Subtle bright colors are used for the object in the girl’s hands as well as the blunt brush stroke technique of that time.
Continuing with the theme of painting everyday people, Edouard Manet’s painting, “George Moore In the Artist’s Garden,” displays the intricate relationships that impressionists shared at this time. Not only were impressionists subject matter, for their friends, confidants and supporters, but they were also bonded by the same mission to change the face of art during the time. In the 1879 portrait of a young George Moore, Manet uses a combination of long and short brushstrokes and a neutral palette to bring focus to George and only subtly give his face expression.
The exhibit also features lush landscape portraits of scenery from artists’ lives. Camille Pissarro’s “Orchard in Bloom, Louveciennes,” painted in 1872, depicts exactly what the title describes. Pissarro, who lived in Louveciennes, paints the scene in an almost lifelike manner. The movement of the trees and wind is captured perfectly and shows the combination of subtle shadows with pale backdrops.
The exhibit includes a plethora of additional pieces including Pissarro’s “The Fence,” Paul Cézanne’s “Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit,” Monet’s “Argenteuil,” Pierre Bonnard’s “Table Set in a Garden” and many more.
Intimate Impressionism wil be at the McNay until Jan. 4, 2015.