Published: October 25, 2011
The Bruce Museum presents the new exhibition “Divided Light and Color: American Impressionist Landscapes” from October 29 through January 29.
Still among the best loved of all artistic movements, Impressionism records the world with a memorable alacrity, capturing scenes with a spontaneous shorthand of divided light and color. Impressionist landscapes were first codified outside Paris by Monet and Renoir in 1869, but soon spread abroad, where, by the late 1880s, they found an enthusiastic and highly individualized group of practitioners in America. Many of these early American Impressionists would make the pilgrimage to France, some working with Monet.
One of the greatest strengths of the Bruce Museum’s permanent collection and local private collectors’ interests is American Impressionist landscape. The exhibition will bring together two dozen examples of this art in a show with imagery that continues to enchant and endure.
In part through recent acquisitions, the Bruce now owns examples of some of the pioneers of American Impressionism, including the distinguished painters Theodore Robinson (1852‱896), John Henry Twachtman (1853‱902) and Childe Hassam (1859‱935). The last mentioned is particularly well represented locally, with outstanding masterpieces not only recording his time in France, as in “Rooftops, Pont Aven, Brittany,” and summer art excursions in New England (“Spanish Ledges,” 1912), but also his record of the local Greenwich scene, including the Holley House, site of the famous Cos Cob Art Colony, and the Mill Pond and railway bridge in Cos Cob.
The exhibition attests to the importance of the local Cos Cob Art Colony and its founders and instructors, such as Leonard Ochtman (1854‱934), whose house overlooked the Mianus River and whose work is extensively represented at the Bruce Museum, and the long-lived and versatile George Wharton Edwards (1869‱950), also well represented in the Bruce.
Here, too, are examples by the second generation of American Impressionists, such as Elmer Livingston MacRae (1875‱953), who adopted a more painterly approach and not only was a founder of the America Pastel Society and the Greenwich Society of Artists, but also an organizer of the famous Amory Show of 1913, which introduced Modern art to America, ultimately supplanting Impressionism.
Also presented is Matilda Browne (1869‱947), another local resident, one of the few women artists among the early American Impressionists. The exponents of American Impressionist landscape painting also recorded American scenery as far afield as in New Hope, Penn., and Carmel, Calif. Uniting these diverse works is a response to changes in light, a strong palette and the carefully observed atmospheric effects so characteristic of American Impressionism.
The Bruce Museum is at 1 Museum Drive. For information, www.brucemuseum.org or 203-869-0376.
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