The first major American exhibition to explore French floral still-life painting in the 19th century, Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower is on view in Richmond March 21 June 21, 2015.
Co-curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art, and Dr. Heather MacDonald, Dallas Museum of Arts Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, The Art of the Flower provides a thorough reassessment of floral still life painting, a genre that previously has been underexplored. The exhibition features masterpieces from international public and private collectionssuch as the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in the United States, as well as the Musée du Louvre, the Musée dOrsay, and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon in Franceand includes three works from VMFAs permanent collection, including a recently acquired van Gogh, Daisies, Arles from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. The diverse range of featured paintings highlights the commitment of artists to the floral still life, and underscores the active exchange of ideas, styles, and modes among artists throughout this time. The exhibition developed from strong partnerships fostered by the French Regional and American Museum Exchange (FRAME). The presenting sponsor for the exhibition is Altria Group.
We are excited to announce this landmark exhibition at VMFA, Director Alex Nyerges said. The exploration of the French floral still life features works from numerous international museums and complements our outstanding European art collection. This collaboration brings new scholarship to a genre that deserves this level of focus.
The Art of the Flower traces the development of the floral still life from the late 18th century through the early 20th century, emphasizing the tremendous depth and scope of creative engagement with the genre throughout this era. The exhibition features 65 paintings by more than 30 artists, including renowned figures such as Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Eugène Delacroix, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Edouard Manet, along with less familiar but equally accomplished contemporaries such as Gérard van Spaendonck, Adèle Riché, and Simon Saint-Jean. The Art of the Flower positions floral paintings within a broader art historical and cultural narrative and reveals how the traditional genre was reinvented through artistic experimentation in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The exhibition explores the ways in which artists working in floral still life incorporated and responded to evolutions in approaches to both the arts and sciences, and provides a sense of discovery in the variety of artistic purposes and achievements in this genre. The Art of the Flower features landmark developments in the genre across nearly two centuries, and is organized chronologically. Topic areas include:
18th-Century PaintingsThe introductory section of the exhibition explores the foundations for the formal experiments of the 19th century, and includes works by early masters such as Anne Vallayer-Coster and Pierre-Joseph Redouté.
The Lyon SchoolLyon, a center for French luxury textile production, would serve as an important hub for the development of still-life painting. The section explores the relationships between academic flower painting, decorative applications of still life, and the demands of mass production in textiles. The section features works by seminal Lyonnais painters who responded to these trends, including Antoine Berjon and Simon Saint-Jean, whose success rose with the expanding economy of the region.
Early Impressionist InfluencesThis area examines the work of Eugène Delacroix and Gustave Courbet within the contemporary productions of artists in the Lyon school and the first stirrings of impressionist still lifes by Frédéric Bazille and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Henri Fantin-LatourThis section includes a diverse selection of paintings by specialist Henri Fantin-Latour, exploring the influence of Jean Siméon Chardins oeuvre on his practice as well as the impact of still life paintings by his contemporaries.
Impressionist PracticeDuring the 1870s and 1880s, artists began taking greater liberties with color, light and space. The exhibition features works by artists such as Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as the last flower paintings of Édouard Manet.
After ImpressionismThe section examines the years between the end of the Impressionist movement and the close of the 19th century, with a particular emphasis on Vincent van Goghs deep interest in the genre and lasting impact on contemporaries.
20th-Century ExplorationsThe exhibition concludes with the work of three artists who continued the floral still-life tradition into the 20th-century: Odilon Redon, Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse.