To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Fondation de lHermitage
is showing a major exhibition of 19th century American painting, in summer 2014. Focusing on landscape, portraiture and still life, this event brings together a collection of exceptional works painted from 1830 to 1900, most of which have never been shown in Europe before. During this crucial period in the history of the United States of America, artists gradually distanced themselves from their European models and developed an innovative style. The vitality and singularity of American art played an active role in the emergence of a new democratic national identity.
This exhibition marks a new stage in the exploration of American art by the Fondation de lHermitage, which began with Andy Warhol (1995), followed by Limpressionnisme américain (2002) and Edward Hopper (2010). It is also part of a series of exhibitions focusing on the great centres of Western art in the 19th century, from Impressions du Nord. La peinture scandinave (2005) to La Belgique dévoilée (2007) and, more recently, El Modernismo. De Sorolla à Picasso (2011).
The European public remains little aware of American genre painting, which considerably developed during the 19th century and is presented here through over 70 works. Pride of place goes to landscape, with the artists of the Hudson River School (Thomas Cole, Jasper F. Cropsey, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic E. Church and Thomas Moran) and the Luminist movement (John Kensett, Fitz Henry Lane). Several portraits of Native Americans by George Catlin are on display, alongside scenes of everyday life and portraits by the realist painters Thomas Eakins and Richard C. Woodville. Finally, works by William M. Harnett, John F. Peto and John Haberle illustrate the highly original renewal of the still life. A set of photographs of landscapes and portraits of Native Americans completes the presentation.
The great majority of the works are loans from prestigious institutions in the USA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Terra Foundation for American Art in Chicago,
) and Europe (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Musée dOrsay and Musée du Quai Branly, Paris,