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Special Report

About Time: 700 Years
of European Painting

Nude in a Wood
Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
Oil on panel, 16 x 12 ¾ (40.6 x 32.4)
52.150, Gift of George F. Of

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta (Spanish, 1870-1945).
Portrait of Anita Ramirez in Black 1916.
Oil on canvas. 18.41,
Museum Collection Fund

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet “La Source,” circa 1867–68
Oil on canvas, 51 ½ x 57 1/8 (130.8 x 145.1)
21.111 Gift of James F. Post, John T. Underwood

Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926)
Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903,
Oil on canvas
68.48.1, Bequest of Mrs. Grace Underwood Barton


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.- The Brooklyn Museum of Art opens today the long-term installation “About Time: 700 Years of European Painting.” The long-term installation of this collection, which has been off view for nearly three years, is entitled About Time: 700 Years of European Painting. It features works ranging in date from Last Supper (circa 1325) by Pseudo Jacopino di Francesco to Woman In Gray (1942) by Pablo Picasso.

This presentation is made possible, in part, by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in celebration of its 25th Anniversary. Additional support is provided by Spencer Hays and Arthur Richenthal.

About Time, a thematic installation featuring more than 100 works by such artists as Frans Hals, Francisco de Goya, Giovanni Boldini, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Matisse from the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s collection of European paintings, is organized around artists’ considerations about time not only how a painter depicts time’s passage, but also how the work itself bears traces of the process that went into making it over a period of time.

The section of the installation entitled “Processing the Landscape” will examine the time devoted to the art-making process. This section contrasts the rapid notation of ephemeral atmospheric effects mists, storms, and lighting small, quickly executed landscape sketches from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century by such artists as Charles-François Daubigny, Camille Corot, Henri Matisse, and Gabriele Münter, with seemingly spontaneous but carefully constructed masterworks of Impressionism painted over a period of days, months, and even years. Works by the Impressionists will include Camille Pissarro’s The Climbing Path, L’Hermitage, Pontoise (1875), Paul Cézanne’s Village at Gardanne (1885-86), and Claude Monet’s The Doge’s Palace in Venice (1908).

Another section, “Rural and Urban Rhythms,” is composed of genre scenes and landscapes from the seventeenth through the early twentieth century. It explores explicit notations of time’s passage, including the natural rhythms of daily and seasonal cycles, as well as the manner in which people pass their days and years, through scenes of work and leisure. Such rural labors as shepherding, as portrayed in Jean-François Millet’s The Shepherd Tending His Flock (1866), and harvesting, as seen in Jules Breton’s End of the Working Day (1876), will be contrasted with such scenes of conviviality as Woman Pouring Wine (circa 1650) by Gerard ter Borch II and Peasant at a Window (circa 1660) by Adriaen van Ostade.  The daily routines of city life are depicted in Shops, Boulevard des Batignolles (circa 1904) by Pierre Bonnard and Woman Drying Herself (Femme au Tub) (1884-86) by Edgar Degas.

“Narrative Strategies” examines the ways in which artists distill powerful, complicated narratives into a single, telling moment or a limited series of events. Included in this section are Davide Ghirlandaio’s Scene from Boccaccio’s Nastagio degli Onesti (after 1483), an episodic narrative in which several significant moments in a tale are displayed in consecutive order; Giulio Campagnola’s Venus and Mars (circa 1510), a retelling of ancient classical myth as well as an allegory of peace; Théodore Géricault’s Study for “The Wounded Cuirassier” (1814), in which the drama of a larger tale is conveyed through a pairing of horse and rider; Eugène Delacroix’s Desdemona Cursed by Her Father (circa 1852), and Degas’ Mademoiselle Fiocre in the Ballet “La Source,” (circa 1867-68), which depict scenes from the theater and literature.  Also included will be such small-format history pictures as Albrecht de Vriendt’s Philip the Good Conferring the Order of the Golden Fleece (1880), which underscores a significant moment in a nation’s history and emphasizes jewel-like detail to convey a sense of accuracy.
The section “Tracing the Figure” addresses the enduring interest in the human figurefrom straightforward portraiture of known individuals to timeless depictions of the human form. Portraits of such identifiable individuals as Jean de Carondelet (circa 1530) by Jan Vermeyen, Tadeo Bravo de Rivero (1806) by Francisco de Goya, and Portrait of Anita Ramirez in Black (1916) by Ignacio Zuloaga offer an opportunity to examine the means with which artists and their patrons jointly created visual identities through facial _expression, bodily gesture, costume and setting. These works also serve as a record of a sitter’s status and physical appearance at a specific moment in time. Other artists, including Camille Corot and Lajos Tihanyi, present broad even timeless generalizations of ethnic, regional, national, and professional types with Young Woman of Albano (1872) and The Critic (1916), respectively. Finally, avant-garde artists experiment with abstractions of the human figure, removing specific clues to identity while retaining the essential elements of the human form. These images evoke the timelessness of human identification and empathy, as demonstrated in Nude in a Wood (1906) by Henri Matisse and Woman in Gray (1942) by Pablo Picasso.

Over the past five years, the Department of European Painting and Sculpture has actively re-examined and reevaluated the frames on pictures in its collection seeking a variety of options, from period frames that are contemporary to the picture to modern innovations that advance the field of frame design. Labels addressing the frame choices for individual pictures will be scattered throughout this exhibition.

About Time: 700 Years of European Painting is organized by Judith F. Dolkart, Assistant Curator, Department of European Painting and Sculpture.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art’s European Painting and Sculpture collection numbers approximately 1400 objects, with over 600 paintings and almost the same number of works on paper. While a notable collection of Italian Renaissance panel paintings and nineteenth-century French paintings comprise the most significant concentrations of painted works, the collection also includes over 100 Spanish Colonial pictures. The 200 sculptures in the collection include significant holdings of works by Antoine-Louis Barye and Auguste Rodin, the Rodins the gift of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor.

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