RICHMOND, VA.-"Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism," opening Feb. 22 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will present a dazzling array of 40 French and American paintings by the most popular Impressionist artists - including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Eugène Boudin, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam and William James Glackens.
Important examples by Barbizon and Realist painters such as Charles François Daubigny, Henri-Joseph Harpignies and Gustave Courbet will also be on view.
They are among the finest examples of late 19th- and early 20th-century landscapes from the Brooklyn Museum collection.
VMFA Director Alex Nyerges says the works are "full of the light and freshness that characterize the Impressionist style of painting. I am sure this will be a very popular exhibition with our visitors."
The show, organized by the Brooklyn Museum, will remain on view in Richmond through May 11.
"The Brooklyn Museum has a world-class collection of French and American Impressionist paintings, many of which were acquired long before other U.S. art museums were showing these avant garde works. This exhibition has been made available to a few select institutions in the U.S. while the Brooklyn Museum undergoes renovation. We are proud to be able to show it in Richmond," Nyerges says.
The earliest works in the exhibition, dating from the 1850s and 1860s, demonstrate the impact of progressive, outdoor sketching practices on French landscape painting. Before the 19th century, artists had worked mostly inside their studios.
"French Impressionists, who were the heirs to the new outdoor sketching tradition, painted highly elaborated 'impressions' - that is, they created seemingly spontaneous, rapidly executed canvases that gave a name to their movement," says Robin Nicholson, VMFA's associate director for exhibitions.
A particular highlight is Monet's "Doge's Palace, Venice," a 1908 oil on canvas.
"Monet was able to completely reinvent a well known tourist subject, endowing it with a shimmering, glowing quality entirely appropriate to its unique setting," says Dr. Mitchell Merling, VMFA's Paul Mellon Curator and head of the department of European art.
"By contrast, in another of his works in the exhibition, 'The Islets at Port-Villez,' 1897, Monet nearly approaches abstraction."
Other Impressionist works in the show are equally compelling, Merling says.
"Harpignies' 'A Meadow in the Bourbonnais, Morning,' 1876, is one of this master's most ambitious paintings, in which he can be seen transplanting the formal qualities of John Constable to French soil. 'The River Seine at Mantes,' circa 1856, shows Daubigny at his best as a poet of tranquility and gentle nature. Gustave Caillebotte's 'Apple Tree in Bloom,' circa 1885, shows Impressionism at its most revolutionary, with its sharp diagonals and clashing reds and greens."
Following in the footsteps of the French, many late 19th-century American painters found inspiration in the streets of Paris as well as in the city's rural environs. Atmospheric images by George Inness, Theodore Robinson and Julian Alden Weir are among the featured strengths of Brooklyn's holdings to be shown in "Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism."
Dr. Sylvia Yount, VMFA's Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art, says the exhibition also reveals "how Americans selectively absorbed the high-keyed palette and broken brushwork of Impressionism when painting local subjects of leisure and labor.
"Many Americans continued to work in an Impressionist vein through the first two decades of the 20th century. Of course, the ever-popular style continues to delight viewers today," she says.
The exhibition's curators are Theresa A. Carbone, the Brooklyn Museum's Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, and Judith F. Dolkart, associate curator of European art at the Brooklyn Museum.
"Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism" has been shown at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., and at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Following the VMFA showing, it will travel to the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colo. (June 13-Sept. 7, 2008), and the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine (Oct. 19, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009).
The exhibition has already been shown in South Korea, at the Hangaram Art Museum and at the Busan Museum.
The admission fee for the VMFA showing will be $8 for adults and $6 for those age 13 to 18 or those with a full-time student ID. The fee per person for adult or student groups of 10 or more (in one ticket purchase) will be $6. Admission is free to VMFA members and those age 12 and younger. Members' guests' tickets are $7. Tickets may be purchased at the museum, by telephone (804-340-1405), or on-line (tickets.vmfa.museum).
The Richmond presentation of the exhibition is made possible by VMFA's Julia Louise Reynolds Fund, the Elizabeth S. Gottwald Endowment, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibitions Endowment, the Fabergé Ball Endowment and The Council of VMFA. The media sponsors are NBC-12 and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is on the Boulevard at Grove Avenue. The galleries are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. VMFA is an educational institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia and in 2008 celebrates 70 years as a leader in statewide arts education. For additional information about exhibitions and programs, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Web site, www.vmfa.museum.