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Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay Opens at the de Young Museum
Workers hang the painting of U.S. artist James McNeill Whistler titled "Whistler's Mother," at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, California. The painting is part of an exhibition beginning May 22 called the "Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee d'Orsay," which is undergoing refurbishment. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco welcomes the United States debut of Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay on view at the de Young Museum May 22 to September 6, 2010. The exhibition includes approximately 100 paintings from the Musée d’Orsay’s permanent collection and highlights the work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, among others. The Musée d’Orsay is lending their most beloved paintings while it undergoes a partial closure for refurbishment and reinstallation in anticipation of the museum’s 25th anniversary in 2011. Birth of Impressionism will be followed in the fall of 2010 by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Beyond: Post–Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. The de Young will be the only museum in the world to host both exhibitions. Tickets go on sale April 6, 2010.

“Each of these two shows brings together masterpieces that, once they return to the Musée d’Orsay, will never again be loaned out for exhibition as a group,” says Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic. “I hope they will excite the interest of the American public in order to strengthen further the links between our two countries.”

“These two exhibitions present a rare and unique opportunity for Americans to see the evolution and incubation of the Impressionist style from the collection of the most important repository of French 19th- and early 20th-century art––the Musée d’Orsay,” says John E. Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “These exhibitions give us the chance to share with visitors some of the most seminal works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art that they would only be able to see in Paris or in an art history book.”

Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay presents works by the famous masters who called France their home during the mid- to late-19th century and from whose midst arose one of the most original and recognizable of all artistic styles, Impressionism. The exhibition begins with paintings by the great academic artist Bouguereau and the arch-Realist Courbet, and includes American expatriate Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black, known to many as “Whistler’s Mother.” Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley are showcased with works dating from the 1860s through 1880s, along with a selection of Degas’ paintings that depict images of the ballet, the racetrack, and life in the Belle Époque.

“Does Impressionism still have something to teach us about its sources, its beginnings, its transformations, and its links with the period of its first flowering?” Musée d’Orsay curator Stéphane Guégan asks. “This is the challenge taken up by this exhibition which attempts to decompartmentalize the movement by comparing it with art in the 1870s in general.” Notable works in this exhibition include:

• The Fife Player by Edouard Manet (1866)
• Racehorses Before the Stands by Edgar Degas (1866–1868)
• Family Reunion by Frédéric Bazille (1867)
• The Magpie by Claude Monet (1868)
• The Cradle by Berthe Morisot (1872)
• The Dancing Lesson by Edgar Degas (1873–1876)
• The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte (1875)
• The Swing by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876)
• Red Roofs, Corner of the Village, Winter Effect by Camille Pissarro (1877)
• Saint-Lazare Station by Claude Monet (1877)
• Rue Montorgueil, Paris. Festival of June 30, 1878 by Claude Monet (1878)
• Snow at Louveciennes by Alfred Sisley (1878)
• L’Estaque by Paul Cézanne (1878–1879)
• Portraits at the Stock Exchange by Edgar Degas (1878–1879)
• The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | Impressionism | John E. Buchanan |


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