Published: June 28, 2000
HARTFORD, CONN. -“Impressionists at Argenteuil,” a special exhibition that assembles more than 50 canvases by Monet, Renoir, Manet, Sisley, Caillebotte, and Boudini to trace the birth of Impressionism, has been organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition will be on view September 9 through December 3.
“” provides a unique opportunity to see many rarely lent paintings from private collections, including four never before shown in the US with select icons.
The aesthetic, professional, and personal alliances formed by these six artists may be detected in the works painted in and around Argenteuil, a Paris suburb on the banks of the Seine. There they developed and codified a new artistic language as they worked in the open-air, often side by side, painting the same views of sailboats and towpaths, bridges and boulevards, gardens and factories. The respect and intimacy they shared is suggested in portraits of each other and of Monet’s wife, Camille, and their son Jean.
It was also at Argenteuil – not in Paris – where the group conceived the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874 and devised a new way to promote their art.
In the mid Nineteenth Century, Argenteuil was a rustic town famed for its tanneries, silk mills, ironworks, and gypsum mines that produced what is still called “plaster of Paris.” It was also synonymous with the new craze for pleasure boating (the first Argenteuil regatta took place in 1850). By the 1860s, the town was only a 15-minute train ride from the capital city.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), Argenteuil suffered, as did many French towns, when its highway and railroad bridges were destroyed. These public works were quickly rebuilt and Argenteuil’s river basin once more became the recreational boating center for city dwellers.
Shortly after the Franco-Prussian War, the Impressionists arrived in Argenteuil. However, lampposts, factory smokestacks, and frames of new weekend houses built for the bourgeoisie increasingly punctuated the town’s modernized landscape and encroached on surrounding farmlands.
Renoir’s portrait of Monet painting in his Argenteuil garden, which is in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum, suggested this exhibition. Its guest curator is Paul Hayes Tucker, author of Claude Monet: Life and Art and Monet at Argenteuil, curator of “Monet in the 90s: The Series Paintings” and “Money in the Twentieth Century,” and author of the accompanying catalogues. He is professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Lenders include numerous private collections in Japan, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. International lenders include the National Gallery, London; Musee D’Orsay, Paris; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; the Niigate Prefectural Museum of Modern Art; Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands; Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland; National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff, Wales. American lenders include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.
Accompanying “” is a 180-page catalogue with 83 color illustrations and 31 black and white illustrations written by Tucker, published by the National Gallery of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum in association with Yale University Press.
Admission to the exhibit at the Wadsworth will be by timed tickets. For tickets call 877/600-MAIN. The Wadsworth Atheneum will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 am to 5 pm; Thursday from 10:30 am to 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. The museum is located at 600 Main Street. Telephone, 860/278-2670.
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