SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. — The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are presenting two exhibitions showcasing stellar collections from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. “Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art” at the Legion of Honor March 29–August 3 features the work of Nineteenth Century avant-garde painters, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh. “Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection” at the de Young June 7–October 12, highlights the great masters of postwar art, including Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella.
The National Gallery of Art is in the midst of renovating its East Building galleries, making these presentations in San Francisco possible. These exhibitions are the latest in a rich history of collaboration between the Fine Arts Museums and the National Gallery dating back to the 1940s.
“Intimate Impressionism” includes nearly 70 treasured paintings by Nineteenth Century avant-garde artists. This exhibition will feature a selection of intimately scaled Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, still lifes, portraits and landscapes, whose charm and fluency invite close scrutiny. These works are among the National Gallery’s most beloved paintings and usually hang in a special sequence of rooms in its East Building.
The show includes significant pictures by Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh. Many paintings in the exhibition were displayed in domestic interiors, and they often became gifts shared among friends.
Most of the works in “Intimate Impressionism” came from the private collections formed by Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Paul Mellon, the two children of gallery founder Andrew Mellon.
“Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection” includes nearly 50 works, featuring several by great postwar artists Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella. The de Young is the exclusive venue for this exhibition, the first showing of the Meyerhoff collection outside the greater Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas.
Among the featured paintings and sculptures are Frank Stella’s “Flin Flon IV,” 1969, Jasper Johns’s “Perilous Night,” 1982, and Roy Lichtenstein’s “Painting with Statue of Liberty,” 1983. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Barnett Newman’s landmark series “The Stations of the Cross,” 1958–1966, widely considered to be the artist’s most important work. The latter paintings will be presented within a discrete, chapel-like gallery so that visitors can experience them as the artist intended.
In 1987, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff of Phoenix, Md., entered into an agreement with the National Gallery of Art providing the terms for the eventual donation of their entire collection to the gallery.
The de Young is at Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. The Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue & Clement Street. For information, 415-750-3600, www.deyoungmuseum.org or www.legionofhonor.org.