Published: November 6, 2012
“From Giverny to the Brooklyn Bridge: American Impressionist Paintings from the Arkell Collections” recently opened at the Arkell Museum. This exhibition features 11 of the 12 paintings newly returned from the Fenimore Art Museum’s exhibition “American Impressionism: Paintings of Light and Life,” along with other treasures from the permanent collection. Sun-dappled views of France and America by Childe Hassam, John Twachtman, Theodore Robinson, J. Alden Weir and Edward Redfield are among the notable paintings in this exhibition, on view through February 2.
Most American Impressionists spent time in Paris and Monet’s hometown of Giverny where they saw the work of French Impressionists. Once they returned to America, they made the new Impressionist style their own. Views of the New England countryside, coastal communities and New York City were popular subjects for the American Impressionists.
Impressionism was embraced by Nineteenth Century American artists who traveled to France or had seen the work of Monet, Degas and Renoir when it was exhibited in New York City. By the late 1880s, Hassam, Weir, Twachtman and others had adopted the new Impressionist style that was dramatically different from the techniques taught at the Paris academies where they had studied. In contrast to the linear, detailed academic style, Impressionism employed quick short brushwork to render both form and light in pure color.
During the late 1880s‱890s American artists traveled outside of Paris to paint Impressionist landscapes. They went to Monet’s hometown of Giverny and small villages like Pont-Aven for subject matter and the community of other artists. Robinson’s “Josephine in the Garden” in Giverny and Hassam’s “At the Quai Pont Aven” are wonderful examples of American Impressionist works created in France.
Well into the Twentieth Century, American Impressionists found inspiration for their paintings in the streetscape of New York City and the countryside of New England, New York and Pennsylvania. Visitors to the Arkell Museum exhibition will see a variety of approaches to Impressionist painting in Hassam’s “Provincetown,” Twachtman’s “Breezy Day” and Lawson’s “Brooklyn Bridge.”
American Impressionist paintings in this exhibition were purchased by Bartlett Arkell during the 1920s‱940s for his personal collection and for the Canajoharie gallery. Arkell often reserved paintings of European subjects for his personal collection. The works he collected for the public gallery embodied what Arkell wanted to share with the people of Canajoharie †uplifting and cheerful scenes of America’s unique architecture, people and landscape.
The Arkell Museum is at 2 Erie Boulevard. For information, www.arkellmuseum.org or 518-673-2314.
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