All posts in “Impressionism”

Object of the Week: Lucie Léon at the Piano

Berthe Morisot, once dismissed with her fellow Impressionists as a “lunatic” by a contemporary critic, is now the subject of an international touring exhibition that confirms her singular contribution to the movement. After seeing it, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl concluded that she was “the most interesting artist of her generation.” This 180-degree swing in critical appreciation over time is by now familiar—mocked then and later adored—especially with the Impressionists.

An upper class Parisian woman, Morisot could not paint the cabarets, racetracks, and cafés that her male colleagues depicted. Though her subject matter was limited to the domestic realm, she was radical in her bold approach to painting. Her slashing brushwork and sophisticated color animated scenes of women reading or getting ready to go out for the evening, a maid hanging up the laundry, and children in the garden, for example.

Woman at her Toilette, 1875/80 Art Institute of Chicago

Woman at her Toilette, 1875/80
Art Institute of Chicago

In the Garden at Maurecourt, 1884 Toledo Museum of Art

In the Garden at Maurecourt, 1884 Toledo Museum of Art

Woman Hanging Laundry, 1881 Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Woman Hanging Laundry, 1881
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Morisot exhibited her paintings in all but one of the eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. In the 1890s her style changed. Her angular brushwork, which in the ’70s and ’80s had created a kind of vibration between figure and background, relaxed. Contour and outline now fixed the figure in place, as in the Seattle Art Museum painting of a young pianist looking up from her practice to pose. The slowed-down brushwork and blue palette contribute to a melancholy quality, which is typical of Morisot’s work in the ’90s and perhaps influenced by the new Symbolist movement practiced by Edvard Munch, Paul Gauguin, and her friend the poet Stéphane Mallarmé.

Lucie Léon was a musical prodigy who would go on to have an illustrious professional career. But Morisot’s daughter Julie, who was present for the painting sessions in their home, recalled that Lucie was a reluctant sitter who “would have preferred to play croquet.” You can hear her piano playing here:

Berthe Morisot died of the flu in 1895 at the age of 54. During her lifetime she sold no more than 40 works out of over 400 paintings. The exhibition Berthe Morisot/Woman Impressionist, shown in Quebec City, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Paris, will introduce her to many new fans.

– Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture

Image: Lucie Léon at the Piano, 1892, Berthe Morisot, oil on canvas, Overall: 38 x 33 in., Image: 24 3/4 x 20 1/2 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Prentice Bloedel, 91.14.
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Object of the Week: Fishing Boats at Étretat

There’s nothing like a good rivalry to spice up a moment in history. I’d say it’s a rare historical note that isn’t improved by some verbal sparring or a gauntlet being thrown. Happily for us, the European Impressionists not only created a remarkable group of paintings, but also produced a natural rivalry in Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and Claude Monet (1840-1926). Manet was a leading influence in the years before Impressionism flowered, and when it did, Monet took the torch from him, becoming the new movement’s unquestioned leader.

In John Rewald’s History of Impressionism, we read about Manet’s first encounter with the younger Monet. The scene is the Paris Salon exhibition of 1865:

The two canvases shown by Monet were views of the Seine estuary, done near the lighthouse of Honfleur. Since the works at the Salon were now hung in alphabetical order to prevent favoritism, Monet’s works found themselves in the same room with Manet’s. When the latter entered this room on the opening day, he had the disagreeable surprise of being congratulated by several persons upon his seascapes. Having studied the signatures on the two pictures attributed to him, Manet at first thought it to be some cheap joke; his anger was conceivably not lessened by the fact that the seascapes continued to have more success than his own works. He left in a rage and openly complained to some friends: ‘I am being complimented only on a painting that is not by me. One would think this to be a mystification.’

Although in time Monet and Manet grew to be friendly artist-peers, sometimes painting together outdoors, such was Manet’s frustration at the Salon that he refused his first chance to meet Monet. “Who is this rascal who pastiches my painting so basely?” spouted Manet, in a masterful artist burn.

Oysters by Edouard Manet

“Oysters” by Edouard Manet, 1862.

Argenteuil by Claude Monet

“Argenteuil” by Claude Monet, ca. 1872.

The two names were often confused in those years of Monet’s ascension and are sometimes still confused today, even with 150 years of distance. Comparisons were always inevitable, given the similarity of their names. It’s a great chance for some amusement, too. A famous caricaturist in 19th century Paris, Andre Gill, sketched a figure painting by Monet and attached the caption “Monet ou Manet?—Monet. Mais, c’est a Manet que nous devons ce Monet; bravo, Monet; merci, Manet.” (“Monet or Manet?—Monet. But it is to Manet we owe this Monet. Bravo, Monet; Merci, Manet.”) Cartoons over the years have picked up on the joke and taken it a number of directions. One of my favorite renditions is this Harry Bliss cartoon, originally published in The New Yorker (and for the record, it was Manet).

Comic "I said, was it Manet or Monet who had syphilis?"

Not only for the syphilis, fate was pretty cruel to Manet: Here’s an artist who cared deeply about being recognized and accepted, who continually submitted paintings to the Salon in search of official stamps of approval—and he was frequently confused with, or overshadowed by, a younger artist who ends up leading the Impressionist movement and becoming one of the most popular artists of all time. And the two were only separated by one letter!

Today, being so far removed from the historical moment makes it easier for us to appreciate Manet’s work on its own, and his contributions to art and painting are widely recognized. Here at the Seattle Art Museum, we also love Monet: our permanent collection features the beautiful harbor scene Fishing Boats at Étretat. So we all arrived at a happy ending. But, just because those rivalries are so much fun, here’s one more spat from Impressionist lore.

On one occasion, Manet went to Argenteuil and set up to paint the Monet family—the artist, his wife, Camille, and his son, Jean—in their garden (this painting is The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil, owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Colin Bailey, a scholar of French painting and director of the Morgan Library and Museum, recounts what happened next: “While Manet was at work, Renoir arrived, borrowed paints, brushes, and a canvas from Monet, and executed a vivid close-up of Camille and Jean, joined by the rooster. Irritated by Renoir’s intrusion, Manet is reported to have told Monet, ‘He has no talent, that boy. Since he’s your friend, you should tell him to give up painting!’”

Madame Monet and Her Son by Auguste Renior

“Madame Monet and Her Son” by Auguste Renior, 1874.

Come tour our brand new exhibition Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art to see Renoir’s painting of that day in the garden—and judge his talents for yourself! And don’t miss a related SAM Talks event this month with Colin Bailey and SAM’s own director, Kimerly Rorschach. —Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

References Bailey, Colin. “The Floating Studio.” The New York Review of Books, April 23, 2015. Rewald, John. The History of Impressionism, 4th revised edition. New York: New York Graphic Society, 1973.
Images: Fishing Boats at Étretat, 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in. Partial and promised gift of an anonymous donor, 92.88. Oysters, 1862, Edouard Manet, French, 1832-1883, oil on canvas, 15 7/16 x 18 7/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Gift of the Adele R. Levy Fund, Inc. Argenteuil, ca. 1872, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 19 13/16 x 25 11/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection Cartoon by Harry Bliss, © Condé Nast Collection. Madame Monet and Her Son, 1874, Auguste Renoir, French, 1841-1919, oil on canvas, 19 13/16 x 26 3/4 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection
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Your handy guide to opening night of Intimate Impressionism

It’s almost here! Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art opens tomorrow in the Seattle Art Museum special exhibition galleries, and we’ve got an array of opening day activities in store for you. Because we’ve got a robust day of art planned, read on for the complete breakdown of ticket prices, events, hours, and more.

HOURS
As tomorrow is First Thursday art walk, the museum will be open late until 9 pm to accommodate your art-loving schedule.

TICKET PRICES
As this exhibition will be popular, tickets for Intimate Impressionism are timed, so when purchasing online or in person, select a specific day/time in which you’ll plan to visit the exhibition.

TONIGHT + AND FUTURE FREE​​ DAYS

FIRST THURSDAYS
SAM COLLECTIONS & INSTALLATIONS: FREE TO ALL​

​​SPECIAL EXHIBITION PRICE FOR INTIMATE IMPRESSIONISM
ADULTS: $12
SENIORS (62+):  $11
MILITARY (WITH ID): $11
STUDENTS (WITH ID): $7
TEENS (13 – 19): FREE
CHILDREN (12 & UNDER: FREE
SAM MEMBERS:FREE

SPECIAL EXHIBITION – EFFECTIVE OCT 2

Ticket prices for Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art are listed below. ​This ticket includes access to all collections and installations.

ADULTS: $24.95
SENIORS (62+): $22.95
MILITARY (WITH ID):  $22.95
STUDENTS (WITH ID): $14.95
TEENS (13 – 19): $14.95​
CHILDREN (12 & UNDER):  FREE
SAM MEMBER: FREE

SPECIAL ADVANCE ONLINE PRICING

Save up to $5 per ticket when you purchase your tickets in advance online! This is a limited time offer. Visitors purchasing tickets onsite will not be eligible for the discount. This online discount not valid on the First Thursday of the month, or for seniors on First Friday.

OPENING NIGHT EVENTS

SEE IMPRESSIONISM, HEAR IMPRESSIONISM
PLESTCHEEFF AUDITORIUM
7–8:30 PM

Experience an overview of the new exhibition Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art with Chiyo Ishikawa, Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, followed by a live performance from Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra’s String Quartet featuring works by Impressionist composers.

The SMCO String Quartet is composed of members of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, an innovative ensemble that brings unique musical experiences to the ears of young and diverse listeners.

MY FAVORITE THINGS: HIGHLY OPINIONATED TOURS
THIRD FLOOR GALLERIES
6:30–7 PM

My Favorite Things tours bring some of the most opinionated and fascinating artists, cultural producers, and community figures into the galleries to discuss their favorite works of art. This tour will be led by Mary Anne Carter, a Seattle-based visual artist and curator of the Fashion Hot Dog 225 art space.

Humor, wildness, and structure define both Carter’s character and body of work, which includes printmaking, fashion design, textile design, and performance. Tour starts at 6:30 pm sharp. Don’t miss it!

PHOTOS AND SHARING
Non-flash photography will be allowed in the galleries, so feel free to take a selfie next to your favorite painting, with your best friend, or with your Impressionist doppleganger while experiencing Intimate Impressionism! Be sure to tag your photos with #SAMImpressionism.

We’ll see you tomorrow for an extraordinary night of art with Monet, Renoir, Manet, Cézanne, Degas, Van Gogh, among other Masters!

Madame Monet and Her Son (detail), 1874, Auguste Renoir, French, 1841–1919, oil on canvas, 19 13/16 x 26 3/4 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa M​ellon Bruce Collection, 1970.17.60.
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Object of the Week: The Poem of Ariwara no Narihira (Ariwara no Narihira Ason)

Unheard of
even in the legendary age
of the awesome gods:
Tatsuta River in scarlet
and the water flowing under it.

(Poem by 9th-century poet Ariwara no Narihira; translation by Joshua Mostow, from Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakuni Isshu, in Word and Image).

We’re welcoming the first week of fall here in Seattle. The Autumnal Equinox—when night and day are nearly the same in length, and summer officially gives way to fall—took place Wednesday, September 23. Most people won’t be checking their calendars for that date, but instead will know the change by the fresh chill in the air and the striking color contrasts we start to see in nature. It’s my favorite season for the beauty and the change visible all around us.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate fall. Long before the term “fall” was coined, and also before the French-derived “autumn” entered the vernacular, the same season was known simply as “harvest.” It meant a time of reaping, gathering, enjoying abundance, and cozying up for winter.

The collection at Seattle Art Museum includes a memorable homage to fall: a print work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). One of the most important producers of ukiyo-e, a grouping of woodblock prints from Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868), Hokusai is represented by 27 works at SAM, including prints and ink drawings on paper and silk. Through the aesthetic in his work, Hokusai became an important influence on the European Impressionists. Seattleites and our visitors will have the opportunity to see many of the best of the Impressionists in the upcoming exhibition, Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, opening October 1.

Hokusai’s tribute to fall, The Poem of Ariwara no Narihira (Ariwara no Narihira Ason), gives visual form to the poem at the top of this post. There’s a lot happening in the print. Blue-green hills set a backdrop in the distance while auburn leaves rise above them. The color contrasts that we identify with fall are beautifully visualized here. Closer to us, several pairs of figures are bustling about—active, but also joyful in their work. Beaming smiles match the visual warmth of the scene. A flowing river cuts across the landscape with an infectious life and energy, carrying a bunch of colorful maple leaves with it. Both the print and the poem that inspired it capture the sense of mystery and magic surrounding the cycle of the seasons. It’s a phenomenon beyond our control that informs everything—how we work, play, dress, and live.

Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

To learn more about this artwork and other treasures in SAM’s collection, visit our website.

IMAGE: The Poem of Ariwara no Narihira (Ariwara no Narihira Ason), ca. 1838, Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese, 1760-1849, woodblock print: ink and color on paper, 10 1/4 x 14 3/4 in., Gift of Mary and Allan Kollar, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2010.47.5.
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SAMart: Flowers by an expert

Victoria Dubourg was trained as a portrait painter and met her future husband, the celebrated portraitist and still-life painter Henri Fantin-Latour, while both were copying paintings at the Louvre. Like her husband—and many women artists before her—she specialized in flower still lifes. This exquisite study of crisp paperwhites against a plain brown ground shows both formal restraint and compositional precision.

In the new installation, France: Inside and Out, landscapes, domestic interiors, and decorative arts invite us to think about the different worlds of men and women in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This painting by Dubourg represents the beginning of broader opportunities for women that were to come.

Narcissus, late 19th-early 20th century, Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour (French, 1840–1926), oil on canvas, 11 x 12 3/8 in., Gift of the Seattle Garden Club, 59.123. Currently on view in France: Inside and Out, fourth floor, Seattle Art Museum.
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