Monet’s Letters: La Falaise And The Porte D’Aval

Claude Monet was not the first painter to find artistic inspiration in Étretat. Throughout the 19th century, impressionist painters including Gustave Courbet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Charles François Daubigny traveled to the small seaside fishing village to capture the landscape’s breathtaking views.  

Tune in to a letter Monet wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, during his first voyage to Étretat in 1883. In it, the plein-air painter expresses his intention of painting a large-scale canvas of the village’s defining cliff, the Manneport. Aware of Courbet’s recent series of paintings depicting the same landscape, Monet calls the move “audacious.” However, he promises Hoschedé that his interpretation of the view will be different and worthwhile.

This audio recording is available on the free smartphone tour of Monet at Étretatnow on view at the Seattle Art Museum. Listen to excerpts of five letters Monet wrote to Hoschedé while in Étretat, when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location, on view through October 17.

La Falaise And The Porte D’Aval, 1883

“I worked well today, I am very happy, the weather is superb if a little cold. I plan to do a large canvas of the cliff at Étretat, even if it is terribly audacious on my part to do that after Courbet did it so admirably, but I will try to do it differently. . .” February 1, 1883.

– Claude Monet

Image: La Falaise and the Porte d’Aval, 1883, Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 × 31 7/8 in., Private Collection.

Monet’s Letters: Fishing Boats (Bateaux De Pêche)

During his time in Étretat, as well as many other periods in his life, Claude Monet’s greatest enemy was himself. Despite the physical challenges presented by the cold winter weather in the seaside village on the Normandy Coast, the plein-air painter’s most difficult challenge to overcome was his persistent fear of a lackluster career and overall artistic failure.

In a letter written to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, while on his first sojourn in Étretat in 1883, Monet describes a series of sleepless nights when thoughts of hopelessness seemed to never end. But the discovery of a new painting location in the annex of his hotel which captures the picturesque cliffs and fishing boats lining the shore brings Monet renewed creative inspiration.

This audio recording is paired with Monet’s painting, Fishing Boats (Bateaux de pêche), on the free smartphone tour of Monet at Étretat at the Seattle Art Museum through October 17. Tune in when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location.

Fishing Boats (Bateaux de pêche), 1883

“… I am so worried that I can’t sleep anymore; tonight too, consumed with thinking about this damned exhibition, I listened to the lashing rain and felt hopeless. However, I didn’t waste my day. I was able to install myself in an annex of the hotel from which you have a superb view of the cliff and the boats. So I worked all morning from this window, regretting I hadn’t done it sooner because I would have been able to quietly create some superb things. Anyway, there are always calamities.” February 10, 1883.

– Claude Monet

Image: Fishing Boats (Bateaux de pêche), 1883, Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 × 36 1/2 in., Denver Art Museum: Frederic C. Hamilton Collection, 2020.568, image courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.

Monet’s Letters: Boats on the Beach at Étretat

Claude Monet traveled to the small fishing village of Étretat twice to paint the setting’s spectacular natural landscape. Both voyages—one in 1883 and another in 1885—took place in the winter season. Despite consistently cold weather and an unpredictable sea, Monet found these months of uninterrupted solitude and pure engagement with nature to be the most fruitful in his artistic endeavors.

Listen to excerpts of three letters Claude Monet wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, while in Étretat in 1885. Written across five days, these letters express a combination of artistic inspiration and frustration. An unexpected period of good weather and the sight of local fisherman lining the shore each morning left Monet feeling both grateful for the beauty that surrounded him and raging at his inability to capture it all on his easels. With his time in Étretat soon coming to a close, Monet wondered whether he would ever be satisfied with his work.

This audio recording is part of a free smartphone tour of Monet at Étretat and accompanies the painting Boats on the Beach at Étretat, on view at the Seattle Art Museum through October 17. Take the tour when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location.

Boats on the Beach at Étretat, 1885

“. . . Etretat is becoming more and more amazing; it’s at its best now, the beach with all these fine boats, it’s superb and I rage at my inability to express it all better. You’d need to use both hands and cover hundreds of canvases.” October 20, 1885.

“For three days it’s been superb weather and I’m taking advantage of it, I can tell you; the boats are getting ready for the herring, the beach is transformed—very animated, so interesting.” October 21, 1885.

“I’ve begun quite a few things here, repetitions, in the hope of being able to work every day, but it doesn’t go quickly. It is true that with several good sessions the canvases can quickly take shape; I have returned to some canvases and I don’t really know how I will get it all.” October 24, 1885.

– Claude Monet

Image: Boats on the Beach at Étretat, 1885, oil on canvas, Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926, 26 × 32 7/16 in., Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1947.95, photo: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY

Monet’s Letters: The Cliffs at Étretat

While looking for inspiration in Étretat, Claude Monet faced numerous mental and physical challenges. From the gloomy weather of the winter season to constant bouts of self-doubt, Monet struggled to keep his artistic spirit alive. Amidst all these hurdles, however, the plein-air painter also found days where everything seemed to go right.

In a November 1885 letter Monet wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, the artist describes a productive workday. With the sun shining above and the tide exactly right, the artist was able to make progress on several paintings. Yet Monet knew these ideal working conditions would not last long. The start of a new moon signified another impending change in the environment of the small fishing village on the Normandy Coast.

Accompanying the painting The Cliffs at Étretat, this recording is available on the free smartphone tour of Monet at Étretatnow on view at the Seattle Art Museum. Listen to this and four other letters Monet wrote to Hoschedé while in Étretat, when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location.

The Cliffs at Étretat, 1885

“Finally a good day, a superb sun . . . I was able to work without stopping, because the tide is in this moment exactly what I need for several motifs. This helped me catch up—and if I had had the chance that this weather would continue for several days, I would get a lot of work done. It’s new moon today and the barometer is going up a lot, even quickly.” November 6, 1885.

– Claude Monet

Image: The Cliffs at Étretat, 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 × 32 in., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1995.528, image courtesy Clark Institute.

Monet’s Letters: Waves at the Manneport

Two years after he first made the journey to the small fishing village of Étretat on the Normandy Coast, Claude Monet returned in the winter of 1885 to find renewed artistic inspiration. After one rainy morning, the plein-air painter set out to capture the landscape’s defining natural arch, the Manneport, from the beaches below but found himself victim to the sea’s raging tides. Too entranced by his own work to notice the turbulent waves ahead, Monet was thrown against a cliff and dragged into the sea along with his art materials, destroying the painting he was working on.

Listen to an audio recording of a November 1885 letter Monet wrote to his companion, Alice Hoschedé, recounting the accident. In his own words, the artist describes his struggle to emerge from the freezing waters, his fragile state after getting soaked, and the anger he felt toward the “old hag” he calls the sea. Despite the loss of his painting, Monet returned to the beach the next day with a new easel to once again paint Étretat’s breathtaking cliffs.

This audio recording is part of a free smartphone tour of Monet at Étretatnow on view at the Seattle Art Museum. Tune in to this and other letters Monet wrote while in Étretat, when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location.

Waves at the Manneport, 1885

“After another rainy morning I was glad to find the weather slightly improved: despite a high wind blowing and a rough sea, or rather because of it, I hoped for a fruitful session at the Manneport; however, an accident befell me. Don’t alarm yourself now, I am safe and sound since I’m writing to you, although you nearly had no news and I would never have seen you again. I was hard at work beneath the cliff, well sheltered from the wind, in the spot which you visited with me; convinced that the tide was drawing out I took no notice of the waves which came and fell a few feet away from me. In short, absorbed as I was, I didn’t see a huge wave coming; it threw me against the cliff and I was tossed about in its wake along with all my materials!

My immediate thought was that I was done for, as the water dragged me down, but in the end I managed to clamber out on all fours, but Lord, what a state I was in! My boots, my thick stockings and my coat were soaked through; the palette which I had kept a grip on had been knocked over my face and my beard was covered in blue, yellow etc. But anyway, now the excitement is passed and no harm’s done, the worst of it was that I lost my painting which was very soon broken up, along with my easel, bag etc. Impossible to fish anything out. Besides, everything was torn to shreds by the sea, that ‘old hag’ as your sister calls her.

Anyway, I was lucky to escape, but how I raged when I found once I’d changed that I couldn’t work, and when it dawned on me that the painting which I had been counting on was done for, I was furious. Immediately I set about telegraphing Troisgros to send me what’s missing and an easel will be ready for tomorrow . . . I send you all my love and hug all the children for me, remember me to Marthe. To think I might never have seen you again.” November 27, 1885.

– Claude Monet

Image: Waves at the Manneporte, ca. 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926, oil on canvas, 29 × 36 ½ in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Gift of Ann and Jim Goodnight, 2016.8.5, image courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art

Muse/News: Chiyo on Monet, Leaders Reflect, and A Major Acquisition

SAM News

Chiyo Ishikawa, the curator of Monet at Étretat, recently appeared on New Day NW to talk about the exhibition’s fresh look at the beloved artist.

“I hope they [visitors] will see him with fresh eyes. I hope that they will be able to put themselves in his shoes and see somebody in the midst of a struggle … when we look back, we think of Monet’s career as one long success—well that’s not how he experienced it.”

For those who couldn’t tee off, Seattle Refined dropped by SAM’s artist-designed mini-golf course at the Olympic Sculpture Park, sharing this photo gallery.

Local News

“A Pied Piper of modern dance.” The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald reviews Ailey, the new documentary on choreographer Alvin Ailey.

“15 photos of memorable 2021 moments (so far)”: Crosscut photojournalists reflect on the year so far in photos.

Also from Crosscut: Their latest podcast features three Seattle arts leaders—Erin Johnson, Tim Lennon and Vivian Hua—sharing their pandemic tales of survival and transformation.

“Now that audiences are tentatively beginning to gather again, they are returning to a landscape that has been forever changed, for worse and for better.”

Inter/National News

Jesse Green of the New York Times reviews Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s play, Pass Over, which he says “inaugurates the new season with unexpected joy.” Celebrating its Broadway debut, the play had a hugely popular run at ACT Theatre in 2019.

Filippo Lorenzin for Hyperallergic on immersive art rooms and why we love to escape.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. has acquired 286 early photographs from Larry J. West’s collection, reports Artnet, including “40 daguerreotypes by three of the most prominent Black studio photographers of their day: James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge, and Augustus Washington.”

“John Jacob, SAAM’s curator for photography, said that… ‘SAAM now can show an inclusive history of photography, with African Americans among its earliest practitioners, conveying to viewers their contributions as innovators and entrepreneurs.’”

And Finally

The Isley Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Courtesy of New Day NW

Muse/News: Monet at SAM, Art Walks, and Cave Cinema

SAM News

Seattle Met continues to recommend our Monet special exhibition on their list of “what to do in Seattle.” Monet at Étretat is on view through October 17.

And Curocity highlights SAM’s upcoming fundraiser, Par-Tee in the Park, featuring an artist-made mini-golf course in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Tickets are still available for the cocktail night on August 21!

Local News

Gabriel Campanario, AKA “Seattle Sketcher,” is retiring his regular sketch column in the Seattle Times for new challenges as the paper’s staff artist. His final column features a moment with a trail, a rabbit, and Echo at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on Daybreak Star Radio, a new Seattle-based station on which “more than 90% of the songs aired…are written, produced or performed by Native American or First Nation peoples.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig returns to Pioneer Square Art Walk and luxuriates in its in-person-ness (but needs more time for the art!).

“I happily sweat ever so lightly in Pioneer Square’s tiny galleries; roamed the neighborhood’s cobblestones, looking for a free cup of wine (which I never found); pleasurably avoided the people I wanted to avoid; and took in art IRL next to living (and masked-up) patrons. Their body heat, errant observations, and awkwardness are part of what makes looking at art so much fun.”

Inter/National News

“The call is clear: Museums must change.” Artforum kicks off the first of two editions exploring how art institutions might evolve to meet an urgent moment.

Art-related beach reads? Art-related beach reads! Via Artnet.

“An ancient version of cinema”? Artnet’s Sarah Cascone on studies of prehistoric lamps and how they may have been used to animate cave paintings.

“The play of the firelight on the paintings likely added a sense of motion to the static images, seemingly animating the artwork in a precursor to today’s movie theaters.”

And Finally

“I, too, am a person and get another chance every day the sun comes up.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Monet at Étretat at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: L Fried.

Muse/News: Amis on Monet, Candidates on Art, and Expansive Visions

SAM News

Monet at Étretat is recommended by notre amis at Ici Seattle, and Seattle Met includes it on their list of things to do in Seattle.

The Seattle Times’ Megan Burbank is back with their “A&E Pick of the Week”; she highlights current shows at Photographic Center Northwest and Sandstone Ceramics and also suggests you mark your calendars for Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, opening October 15 at SAM.

“It’s thrilling to share with the public these formidable examples of Abstract Expressionism and postwar European art,” said Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s curator of contemporary art, in the news release. “The emotional current of these works, reflective of their specific time and context, runs from exuberant to contemplative, fierce to soaring.”

Local News

Seattle Medium is among outlets sharing the news that Sheila Edwards Lange has been selected as the new chancellor of the University of Washington Tacoma. The educator and leader also serves on several boards, including that of the Seattle Art Museum.

The Seattle Times’ Alan Berner captured the tricky installation of two sculptures downtown: Fernando Botero’s Adam and Catherine Mayer’s What Goes Up Must Come Down (a giant paddleball!).

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig spoke with seven of Seattle’s mayoral candidates to ask them about their platforms for the arts (or lack thereof). To learn more, join this Thursday’s candidate forum on the arts!

“You’d have to be living under a rock not to understand how devastating the pandemic has been for Seattle’s art and cultural community…While Seattle’s Cultural Space Agency charter has emerged to stymie cultural displacement in the city, a lot of work is yet to be done to make sure that Seattle can be a hospitable place for artists to work and live. So what’s Seattle’s next mayor going to do about it?

Inter/National News

“The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has announced 40 grants totaling $3 million in support of efforts to preserve African-American landmarks,” reports Philanthropy News Digest.

“Pay your rent, Canada”: a comic by SAM collection artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

The Magazine ANTIQUES continues its coverage of the missing panels from Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series; here, they check in with the exhibition curators of The American Struggle, which was recently on view at SAM, to reflect on the recently recovered and still-missing panels.

Immigrants is the title caption, but on the back Lawrence wrote, ‘The Emigrants,’ suggesting a desire for permanence in their new home. The middle figure clutches a potted rose—the national flower of the United States. Lawrence’s vision is that the arrival of all people, young and old, contributes to the expansion of America through their struggles and courage.”

And Finally

“Arts Philanthropists Need to Change the Way They Think About Disability”: An Artnet op-ed from Alice Sheppard and Lane Harwell.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Monet at Étretat at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Conservation & Color: Monet’s Fishing Boats at Étretat

Take a close look at Monet’s 1885 painting Fishing Boats at Étretat with Nicholas Dorman, SAM’s Jane Lang Davis Chief Conservator. Dorman shares about the canvas, the colors, and the layers of revisions that makes SAM’s single Monet painting sing. As the inspiration for the current Monet at Étretat exhibition at Seattle Art Museum, Fishing Boats at Étretat was closely examined and conserved, revealing much about the context of Monet’s artistic development at this pivotal moment in his career. Learn all about advances in paint and the cumbersome process of plein air painting in 19th-century France in this video.

One of the Monet at Étretat galleries is dedicated to Monet’s process and features an easel similar to one Monet would have used, as well as the backs of two paintings. This demonstrates the physically demanding process Monet embarked on in painting outside, and the materials available to work with at the time. The exhibition features 10 paintings created by Monet and 12 works by other artists of his era, as well as other materials addressing the artist’s engagement with the fishing village of Étretat on the Normandy Coast of France in the mid-1880s. Get your tickets today to see Monet at Étretat on view at Seattle Art Museum through October 17.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM’s Content Strategist & Social Media Manager

Muse/News: Monet’s Struggle, Return of Live Music, and Old Women Artists

SAM News

Coast in to see Monet at Étretat, now on view at SAM. Huma Ali for the UW Daily has an overview of the focused exhibition, including remarks from curator Chiyo Ishikawa.

“We tend to think of somebody like Monet as successful all his life,” Ishikawa said. “But with a career of that many years and of that many different concerns, decade by decade, it’s very interesting to me to think more about the kind of struggles that he had and the way that he had to work out these problems on his own.”

And Julie Emory of UW Daily highlighted a collection show also on view at SAM: Northwest Modernism: Four Japanese Americans. Emory focuses on the sculpture by beloved Seattle artist (and UW alum) George Tsutakawa that is included in the show.

Local News

Here’s Crosscut’s Brangien Davis with her weekly ArtsSEA letter: she remembers Seattle glass art legend Benjamin Moore and highlights the Wing Luke Museum’s self-guided walking tour of works by the Tsutakawa family (with a mention of Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn’s installation, Gather, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum).

Mark Van Streefkerk for South Seattle Emerald on the three local artists tapped to create original designs for limited-edition Orca cards.

Melinda Bagreen for the Seattle Times on the “weird and wonderful” return of in-person concerts with the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

“In a preconcert interview, [festival artistic director and violinist James] Ehnes had remarked, ‘We’re really hungry for live performance,’ and that hunger showed in the zest and urgency of the music-making.”

Inter/National News

The Medici Were History’s Greatest Patrons—and Also Tyrants. The Met’s New Show Tackles How Art Served Power”: Eleanor Heartney for Artnet.

Emily Wilson for Hyperallergic on Dana King’s Monumental Reckoning, an installation of 350 sculptures in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park representing the first Africans kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1619.

Jillian Steinhauer for Believer on old women artists.

“These women come from vastly different backgrounds and have made widely disparate types of work, but they’ve often been treated the same way: as an archetype, like the wise crone in fairy tales. And though the old-woman artist has spent her whole life building her own agency, when she finally makes it to the mainstream, she gets presented primarily as an object of fascination.”

And Finally

“It’s constantly reinventing itself, just like me”: Holly Regan on Pike Place Market.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Claude Monet, 1890, Theodore Robinson, American, 1852–1896, charcoal on paper, 27 × 13 in., Seattle Art Museum, Partial and promised gift from a private collection, 2005.163

Muse/News: “Glorious” Monet, a Seattle Arts Podcast, and Visions of Firelei Báez

SAM News

Monet at Étretat has docked at the Seattle Art Museum! Seattle Met, Seattle PI, and Curiocity all recommend the exhibition that tells the story of Claude Monet’s journeys to the fishing village. 

Curator Chiyo Ishikawa appeared on Evening Magazine for a sneak peek at the show’s luminous paintings. She also spoke with Gayle Clemans for her review of the show in the Seattle Times and with Crosscut’s Brangien Davis for her weekly ArtSEA letter.

“When you arrive in the last gallery, SAM’s painting—“Fishing Boats at Étretat”—glows against the plum-colored walls, along with seven other Étretat paintings by Monet. It’s a glorious room, with seascapes and monumental rocks that emerged from Monet’s brush as he laid down quick strokes of the varied colors he observed in the moment.”

“Here we see the man not as the progenitor of mass-produced prettiness, but as a stalwart artist trying to both please a fickle art market and express something true about nature, atmosphere and his home environment.”

Local News

Roxanne Ray for the International Examiner on Tacoma Method, a new opera about the 1885 violent expulsion of Chinese people from Tacoma composed by Gregory Youtz with libretto by Zhang Er.

“What the reception to Seattle’s greatest film can tell us about the city’s on-going homelessness crisis”: Here’s Andrew Hedden for Real Change on the 1984 documentary Streetwise.

Former KUOW arts reporter Marcie Sillman and beloved arts advocate Vivian Phillips have launched a podcast called “DoubleXposure,” reports Jade Yamazaki Stewart for the Seattle Times.

“Phillips says one of her main goals in the podcast is to ‘desegregate the arts from other essential needs’ and to frame it as something just as crucial to human life as things like housing and electricity. ‘It’s an integral part of everything we do, but we tend to segregate it and make it an add-on,’ she says.”

Inter/National News

Artnet takes you inside the studios of 17 artists, asking about their most essential tools for creation.

After the deadly June 24 collapse of a condominium in Surfside, Florida, a wave of support has arrived. Hyperallergic’s Valentina Di Liscia reports on “a new art fundraiser [that] will help the victims and families impacted by the tragedy.”

Siddhartha Mitter for the New York Times on a new installation by Firelei Báez at the Institute of Contemporary Art Watershed in Boston; one component is a massive sculpture that imagines Haiti’s San-Souci palace emerging from the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s such a palimpsest,” Báez said, looking over the water to the downtown skyline. “Thinking of centuries of development that have happened here — what was negotiated for that to happen, what was given and what was taken?”

And Finally

Rick Steves on “traveling in a reopened world.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: La Falaise d’Aval, 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 25 9/16 × 31 7/8 in., Hasso Plattner Collection

Muse/News: Monet at the Seaside, Art in Person, and White House Walls

SAM News

Seattle Times photojournalist Alan Berner snaps the member preview of SAM’s “refreshing” exhibition, Monet at Étretat, which opens to the public this Thursday. The focused exhibition features paintings from the famous artist’s sojourns to the seaside village; you can practically feel the sea spray. Come inside and cool off with art!

The exhibition is also featured on the Stranger’s list of “biggest in-person festivals and events” for summer 2021.

“An ingenuous feat of urban planning”: Lonely Planet highlights the Olympic Sculpture Park as one of the “best things to do with kids in Seattle.”

Local News

In her latest ArtSEA post, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis talks about the AIDS Memorial Pathway, a new show at Photographic Center Northwest, and a new composition by Ahamefule J. Oluo.

Gemma Alexander for the Seattle Times on “how Seattle Opera became one of few companies nationwide to pull off an all-digital season.”

“From the must-see to the weird and wonderful”: Gayle Clemans for the Seattle Times returns to “On View,” spotlighting three art shows to see in Seattle.

“There’s nothing like seeing art in the flesh. It can stir the senses, feed the mind and heal the soul. And with more people vaccinated, it’s a wonderful time to go see art in person.”

Inter/National News

“Art historians have discovered a long-lost painting by Rembrandt van Rijn in Rome”, reports Artnet’s Sarah Cascone. It fell off a wall and was taken in for repairs, leading to the discovery of who painted it.

The New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin on Antwaun Sargent’s first show as a director at Gagosian; also, here’s GQ with a report on the opening’s impressive style.

Each new administration puts their own touch on “The People’s House,” John Anderson of the Washington Post details some of the new works of art the Bidens have or will include on the walls of the White House.

“The works the Bidens have hung on the walls thus far reflect a running theme with the first family: a deep connection to their personal history.”

And Finally

Wesley Morris (ahem, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Wesley Morris!) on Questlove’s new documentary, Summer of Soul.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Waves at the Manneporte, ca. 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926, oil on canvas, 29 × 36 ½ in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Gift of Ann and Jim Goodnight, 2016.8.5, image courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art

Muse/News: Simply the Best, the Message in the Monument, and Send in the Bugs

SAM News

Seattle Met is out with their Best of the City features, including results of their reader survey. Who was selected as Best Museum? Why, the reimagined and re-reopened Seattle Asian Art Museum, that’s who!

And coming up downtown, by way of France’s Normandy Coast: Monet at Étretat. Preview and ArtfixDaily recently highlighted the exhibition, which opens to the public July 1.

Local News

Out now: Issue 2 of New Archives, the newest arts journal on the scene. Topics include art, healing, and joy from contributors including Carol Zou and Sharon Arnold.

Mark Van Streefkerk for South Seattle Emerald on In This Way We Loved One Another, an installation by Two-Spirit poet and interdisciplinary artist Storme Webber for Capitol Hill’s AIDS Memorial Pathway.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel checks in with the 16 artists who created the Black Lives Matter mural on East Pine Street, one year later, including SAM collection artist Kimisha Turner, ARI Glass, Aramis O. Hamer, and more.

“All art forms have helped and continue to help us get through this collective dark night of the soul,” [Aramis O.] Hamer says. “Years in the future, I think we will speak of 2020 as being a Birth of a Renaissance.”

Inter/National News

In Artforum: A conversation between scholar Hanan Toukan and Palestinian Museum director Adila Laïdi-Hanieh about building an institution under colonialism.”

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the British fragrance brand Floral Street have teamed up to create scents inspired by the artist’s works, reports Artnet’s Naomi Rea.

The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz on how—and why!—an all-woman team of art restorers and scientists “quietly unleashed microbes with good taste and an enormous appetite” onto Michelangelo’s marble Medici Chapel in Florence.

And Finally

On view: Abandoned paintings.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM’s Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman

Muse/News: Stories to Tell, Ceramic Guardians, and Louvre Super-Fans

SAM News

Museum Shows With Stories to Tell”: Ted Loos for the New York Times’ special Museums section, highlighting summer exhibitions around the country including Monet at Étretat at SAM, opening July 1.

USA Today readers have named the “10 best sculpture parks in the US”; SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park comes in at number 8! Go outside and see some art.

Intertwined weaves Black beauty into the cityscape,” writes the Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig about the new public art installation by Intisar Abioto and Hank Willis Thomas. The nine street banners scattered throughout the Central District were brought to Seattle by Wa Na Wari in partnership with SAM.

Local News

Misha Berson for Crosscut on the Campfire Festival, an outdoor theatre fest happening now through June 5; its organizers the Williams Project say “we have to help people figure out how to commune again.”

Melinda Bargreen for the Seattle Times on the first live audience at Benaroya Hall in 14 months; watch the clip from the Seattle Symphony’s performance of a Beethoven piano concerto.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig visits the studio of Saya Moriyasu as she prepares for her upcoming show of ceramics at J. Rinehart Gallery.

“She shows me a sculpture with the head of a noble-looking seal—but the head is on top of a human body with a giant ass. Where the buttcheeks should be are two lighter colored circles, as if the creature had shaved just its rear end. It’s a beautifully made, oddly whimsical object that seems to wink at you: Don’t take anything too seriously.

Inter/National News

Francesa Aton of Art in America on “five new Black-run art spaces to watch.”

Maya Salam of the New York Times on several projects to preserve the plywood sheets that became art last summer, including Leesa Kelly’s “Memorialize the Movement” in the Twin Cities, which has now collected over 800 boards. 

Artnet interviews “super-fans” who were first in line to visit the Louvre when it finally reopened on May 19.

“We’re made of flesh, after all, and we need experiences. And it’s an experience to see objects in all their three-dimensionality … It’s touching to see these objects that have persisted through time.”

And Finally

“An Interactive Guide To Ambiguous Grammar.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: The Cliffs at Étretat, 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 × 32 in., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1995.528, image courtesy Clark Institute.

Muse/News: EDI at SAM, Cultural Space Renaissance, and a Colescott Record

SAM News

Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEDI), appeared on Converge’s Morning Update Show as part of their #FeelGoodFriday. She and host Omari Salisbury talk about her work for SAM, what’s on view at the museum, and her custom kicks. Her segment starts at minute 37, but watch the whole episode!

“Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by Visiting These Art Museums,” says House Beautiful, which includes the Seattle Asian Art Museum on its list. It will be at a very limited capacity; get your tickets for later in June now. Learn more about the dramatic reimagining of the building and its collection, which debuted in February 2020, check out project partner US Bank’s interview of SAM CFO Cindy Bolton.

And on view later this summer at SAM downtown: Monet at Étretat. Art & Object shares the news about this show that will take us to France’s Normandy Coast.

Local News

John Grade, whose monumental tree sculpture Middle Fork graces SAM’s Brotman Forum, has been busy installing his new work at Sea-Tac airport; the Seattle Times has photos and a time lapse.

“Emerging from our caves”: Crosscut’s Brangien Davis has a whirlwind look at the many arts and culture events you can attend (gasp!) IRL

“Is Seattle ready for a cultural space renaissance?” asks Beverly Aarons for South Seattle Emerald, looking at what’s happening with Seattle’s new Cultural Space Agency PDA.

“The Cultural Space Agency will give its BIPOC leadership the power to support cultural space projects in Seattle that directly benefit vulnerable communities most impacted by displacement.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Taylor Defoe reports on the changes happening at DC’s National Gallery of Art: it just reopened with a new brand identity and a new chief curator, E. Carmen Ramos. 

Rebecca Mead for the New Yorker on “the mysterious origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant.”

ARTnews and everyone else reported on the major acquisition by the forthcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art: Robert Colescott’s now-legendary George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware, which was included in SAM’s 2018 show Figuring History

“This particular one is both contemporary and historical,” [museum director and CEO Sandra] Jackson-Dumont said, referring to the caricatures depicted in the painting. “It bridges popular culture and history. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to make sure the Lucas Museum is participating in expanding the canon.”

And Finally

Julia Wald’s Missed Meals

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Priya Frank

Object of the Week: Pomponne II de Bellièvre

One international diplomat has left the museum, but another is waiting to be seen in the galleries.  Monday, August 3 was Chiyo Ishikawa’s last day as the Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art. This ended her 30-year career as a curator of European Painting and Sculpture whose diplomacy was legendary. With great language skills, knowledge of art history, and an exemplary way with people, she made projects flow. To learn of her accomplishments, this press release offers a summary.

The label for this portrait offers evidence of her patience in collecting. Check out the extraordinarily long credit line under the detail below. Just imagine all the donors lining up next to this remarkable portrait. It took a crowd of supporters to acquire this diplomat from another time and place. Pomponne II de Bellièvre served as the French ambassador to the English Court of Charles I. When seen in person, his portrait has the allure of a meeting with an actual personality. This was the hallmark of the painter, Anthony van Dyck, who knew how to flatter royal and wealthy subjects, partly by creating portraits that appear so alive and real that they seem ready to speak. The studied elegance of this diplomat is seen in his dark silk suit with a tactile sheen, and his facial expression implying that he is about to introduce himself.    

Pomponne II de Bellièvre (detail), 1638-39, Anthony van Dyck, oil on canvas
54 x 43 1/2 in., Purchased with a major grant from an anonymous donor; additional funds provided by Louise Raymond Owens; Norman and Amelia Davis; Oliver T. and Carol Erickson; Seattle Art Museum Guild; Pauline Ederer Bolster and Arthur F. Ederer in memory of their sister, Milli Ederer Kastner; Mr. and Mrs. James D. Burns; gift in memory of Andrew Price by Mrs. Mary Price and their family; bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Stewart Downey; bequest of Charles Moseley Clark; Max R. Schweitzer; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Stimson, Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection; Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; Silver Anniversary Fund; Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund; Seattle Art Museum Purchase Fund, by exchange, 98.15.

If De Bellièvre could talk, he’d have plenty of stories about court intrigues around Charles I. This English monarch married the sister of the French King Louis XIII and was an avid art collector who made ceremonies and dinners wait so he could show off his expensive holdings. He brought Van Dyck to the court in 1632, and nurtured his rise to success. However, not long after painting this ambassador’s portrait, Van Dyck died at the age of 42, from a long illness that may connect his life to ours.   

Van Dyck lived at a time when waves of the plague known as the Black Death overtook populations in Europe from 1347 to the late 17th century—throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods. When Van Dyck arrived in Palermo, Sicily in 1624, one such wave took hold, and he was quarantined. While there, he painted numerous portraits of the city’s patroness, Saint Rosalie, trying to intercede for those stricken by the plague. One of these paintings is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is suspected that Van Dyck’s illness may have begun during this time.   

It has been hard for the staff to honor Chiyo Ishikawa remotely, but pandemics do require new forms of diplomacy. Luckily, she will open her final exhibition, Monet at Étretat in May 2021, yet another example of her leadership in international artistic persuasion. We certainly hope by then that we’ll all be together in the galleries and can pay our respects to the French ambassador who waits there patiently for us to return. 

Pam McClusky, SAM Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Pomponne II de Bellièvre, 1638-39, Anthony van Dyck, oil on canvas
54 x 43 1/2 in., Purchased with a major grant from an anonymous donor; additional funds provided by Louise Raymond Owens; Norman and Amelia Davis; Oliver T. and Carol Erickson; Seattle Art Museum Guild; Pauline Ederer Bolster and Arthur F. Ederer in memory of their sister, Milli Ederer Kastner; Mr. and Mrs. James D. Burns; gift in memory of Andrew Price by Mrs. Mary Price and their family; bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Stewart Downey; bequest of Charles Moseley Clark; Max R. Schweitzer; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Stimson, Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection; Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; Silver Anniversary Fund; Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund; Seattle Art Museum Purchase Fund, by exchange, 98.15. Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-Stricken of Palermo, 1624, Anthony van Dyck, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum, 71.41. Chiyo Ishikawa, photo: Robert Wade.
SAMBlog