Published: July 3, 2012
Celebrate summer with a trip to the beach at Trouville, France. The exhibition “Old Masters to Impressionists: Three Centuries of French Painting from the Wadsworth Atheneum” at the Taft Museum of Art through September 16 offers two views of this famous beach †one by Eugène Boudin and another by Claude Monet.
Along with beautiful beaches, this exhibit features wind-swept seascapes, lush landscapes, riveting portraits and numerous iconic images from artists inspired by the landscapes and seascapes of France, including Delacroix, Chardin, Boucher, Géricault, Courbet, Van Gogh, Pissarro, Manet, Degas and Renoir.
The work of Claude Monet and other Impressionists surprised and captivated viewers in the late Nineteenth Century, but they were not the first generation of French artists to present radical new ways of seeing and making art. For three centuries, artists in France operated at the vanguard of European art.
The paintings in the exhibition offer a lens through which to view the historic changes in French culture during this period. Ranging from baroque still lifes to Impressionist seascapes, the works reflect a nation moving from pastoral to urban living and the increasing industrialization of modern France.
“Arguably no nation produced as much great art during the Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries as France,” said Lynne Ambrosini, chief curator at the Taft. “This exhibition reveals the dazzling accomplishments of painters ranging from Claude Lorrain, the greatest Seventeenth Century landscapist, to Claude Monet.”
The Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, Conn., is the oldest public art museum in the United States. With a collection of French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes, Modernist masterpieces and contemporary works, as well as early American furniture and decorative arts, the Wadsworth is currently undergoing an extensive renovation.
The Taft Museum of Art is at 316 Pike Street. For information, www.taftmuseum.org or 513-241-0343.
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