Published: June 4, 2002
BALTIMORE, MD. – The Baltimore Museum of Art celebrates the return of its French masterpieces from a two-year international tour with a special exhibition of landscapes by Cézanne, one of the greatest influences on Twentieth Century art. “” presents the incomparable “Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry,” one of the most important works in the BMA’s collection, with three landscape paintings on loan from New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
On view through August 25, Cézanne’s famous view of his cherished mountain returns to the Cone Wing with 31 breathtaking works by some of the most inspiring artists of the Nineteenth Century, including Monet, van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, Renoir and Pissarro.
“The Cone Wing will be transformed into a showcase for works from one of the most beloved periods in French art,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “It is exciting to have these glorious paintings from BMA’s collection home again.”
“” includes four paintings from the 1880s and 1890s that show the evolution of Cézanne’s landscape painting technique, which revolutionized the genre. Cézanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain rising over his birthplace in the south of France, more than 60 times, and the BMA’s masterpiece is one of the finest examples of his vision.
During removal of an aging layer of varnish this winter, part of BMA’s recent conservation efforts on “Mont Sainte-Victoire,” lilac highlights in the mountain and surprising strokes of purple and brilliant blues in the sky were revealed. The painting was last cleaned and varnished in 1950 when it entered the BMA’s collection as part of the Cone Bequest.
The three landscapes from the Museum of Modern Art include: “Pines and Rocks (Fountainebleau?)” from the late 1890s, a dramatic close-up view of a bold stand of trees; “L’Estaque,” dating to the early 1880s with red rooftops, blue sky and stone cliffs overlooking the bay; and “Turning Road at Montgeroult,” a picturesque view of a road running through a small village, a prime example of Cézanne’s brushstroke and palette from the late 1890s. In addition, more than 20 paintings, drawings, and prints from the museum’s collection highlight Cézanne’s influence on later artists and explore the nature of landscape painting during the early Twentieth Century.
Cézanne Influences the Next Generation of Artists
Cézanne was able to incorporate his own unique vision of the landscape before him into some of the most compelling canvases painted in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, inspiring artists on both sides of the Atlantic to freely interpret the subject with a new use of color, geometry and space. His late works, with their emphasis on structure and solidity, and bold, unique brushstrokes, are viewed as a precursor to Cubism.
More than 20 paintings, drawings and prints from the museum’s collection will explore Cézanne’s influence on European and American artists. Matisse credited Cézanne as his true teacher, and his “Painter in the Olive Grove” (1923-early 1924), featuring olive trees bending and swaying above a small figure, echoes Cézanne’s blue and green palette and technique, which Matisse admired.
Following Cézanne’s lead, American John Marin puts forth his own interpretation of the landscape before him in “Sun, Isle and Sea” (1921), creating a dynamic composition full of energy and power. Charles Sheeler’s “Rocks at Steichen’s” (1937) echoes Cézanne’s “Pines and Rocks” in which severe cropping disrupts the viewer’s sense of scale.
Cézanne’s interest in the motif of bathers in a landscape led to a production of more than 200 works on the subject and influenced other artists to follow his lead. Several of these versions by Cézanne will be on view, as well as works by Americans Max Weber and Maurice Pendergast. Cézanne’s overall impact can also be seen in works on view from the BMA’s collection by artists such as Raoul Dufy, Andre Derain, Chaim Soutine and Marsden Hartley.
The Return of the BMA’s French Masterpieces
Just over a year after its Grand Reopening, the Cone Wing will be transformed again as works by some of the best known artists of the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century return from a two-year international tour. Rediscover Monet’s ephemeral view of London’s “Waterloo Bridge,” steeped in purple fog; Gauguin’s “Woman of the Mango,” a portrait of his Tahitian wife in vibrant yellows and blues; and van Gogh’s “Landscape with Figures,” a hillside in motion with rhythmic brushstrokes that rake through the earth and trees, along with the BMA’s world-renowned collection of works by Matisse.
Master works by Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Bonnard and Courbet, among others, many from the BMA’s Cone Collection, provide an opportunity to explore the evolution of modern painting. Supporters of Matisse who were keenly aware of his place in the pantheon of modern art, Claribel and Etta Cone consciously gathered works for their collection to provide a context for Matisse’s artistic genius. The reinstallation of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century French paintings reveals the Cone sisters’ grand scheme with a survey of French art that reflects the climate out of which Matisse’s unique style evolved.
In addition to the French paintings, the Cone Wing will feature the BMA’s bronze “Little Dancer” sculpture by Degas and an intimate gallery featuring the works of Picasso, including his classical portrait of “Mother and Child” (1922) and the dramatic “Woman with Bangs” (1902).
The returning paintings have been on an international tour in “The Triumph of French Paintings,” an exhibition co-organized by the BMA and the Walters Art Museum. They will be reinstalled with works from The Cone Collection in the newly renovated Cone Wing galleries.
The Cone Collection is The Baltimore Museum of Art’s preeminent holding of post-Impressionist and modern art. Approximately 3,000 objects assembled by Baltimore sisters Claribel Cone (1864-1929) and Etta Cone (1870-1949) were bequeathed to the museum in 1950. In addition to 500 works by Henri Matisse, considered the most important and comprehensive holding in the world, the collection includes 113 paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints and illustrated books by Pablo Picasso.
In conjunction with the return of the French Masterpieces, the BMA’s popular virtual tour of the Cone sisters’ apartments has been enhanced with new features that reveal more about Claribel and Etta Cone and their world-renowned collection of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and modern art. The state-of-the-art project was created by University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Imaging Research Center and first introduced during the Grand Reopening of The Cone Collection in April 2001.
Visitors can now view 22 photographs taken by Matisse of the famous “The Pink Nude” painting in progress, along with translations of two letters to Etta about his work on it. A chest of drawers in Claribel’s Print Room opens to show several Picasso drawings and a trunk in Etta’s bed-room reveals examples of her impressive textile collection.
Travel journals, account books and a photo album provide glimpses of the sisters’ extraordinary lives. Other additions include new computer photo-realistic lighting in each room, identification labels for each work of art, a copy of the archival photo upon which each room of the virtual tour is based, and a 1937 aerial map of Baltimore that whisks visitors from the Inner Harbor into the sisters’ Bolton Hill apartments.
The exhibition and reinstallation are organized by Katy Rothkopf, BMA curator, painting and sculpture.
Gallery Talks are scheduled for Sunday, June 23, 2 pm, and Sunday, June 30, 2 pm.
The Baltimore Museum of Art is open Wednesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm; and during the first Thursday of every month, 5 to 8 pm. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month.The BMA is on Art Museum Drive at North Charles and 31st Streets. For information, 410-396-7100.
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