LOS ANGELES.- Considered a minor genre for centuries, landscape painting was revolutionized in the 19th centuryrising in both public and critical esteemwith the achievements of Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau and the Barbizon School, and, in the latter part of the century, the Impressionists. On view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, through March 8, 2009, Sur le motif: Painting in Nature around 1800 draws mostly from the Gettys own collection of extraordinary European landscape paintings, as well as from those of neighboring institutions and private collections, to demonstrate the core practice of painting outdoors as it developed during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum says, In the late 18th and early 19th century, there was a kind of golden age of landscape paintinga period of culmination and validation for the previously undervalued genrewhich saw artists from France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, England, and Switzerland painting outdoors, sur le motif.
Sur le motif: Painting in Nature around 1800 focuses on this fundamental moment in European painting, when artists emerged from their studios and began to paint in the clear, pure light of the Italian campagna. Painting outdoors (plein-air) gave them the opportunity to practice transcribing the atmospheric conditions and aerial perspective of picturesque views. Originally intended as sketches to be reworked in more formal, idealized compositions in the studio, today these are considered important works of art in their own right.
The exhibition begins with several works by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (whose treatise in 1800 encouraged and codified the practice of painting outdoors), continues with examples of the highest quality and condition of what could be called a golden age of plein-air painting in Europe, and concludes with a group of works inspired by the new interest in the native landscape of France. Among the highlights of the exhibition will be several recent additions to the Gettys already stellar collection of European landscape painting, including View in the Ile-de-France by Jean-Victor Bertin; View of Bridge and the Town of Cava, Kingdom of Naples by Jean-Joseph Xavier Bidauld; Classical Landscape with Figures and Sculpture by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes; Houses near Orléans by Camille Corot; and Study of Clouds with a Sunset near Rome by Simon Denis. The addition of paintings from public and private collections will broaden the scope of this concise survey.
Sur le motif: Painting in Nature around 1800 is organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and curated by Frauke Josenhans, graduate intern, and Mary Morton, associate curator of paintings, with Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings. The exhibition is made possible by generous loans from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York; the Museum Mesdag in The Hague; the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; and private collections in Los Angeles and New York.