French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts

A major exhibition of more than 100 masterworks of French Impressionism is coming to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in JUNE 2021 as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series. The exhibition comes in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), an institution renowned worldwide for its rich holdings of Impressionist paintings.

French Impressionism will feature works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt and more – including 79 that have never-before-been exhibited in Australia.

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French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts

French Impressionism will chart the trajectory of the late-nineteenth century artistic movement, highlighting the key milestones and figures at the centre of this period of experimentation and revolution in modern art. Through an arresting display of paintings and works on paper that showcases the breadth of the movement, the exhibition will evoke the artistic energy and intellectual dynamism of the period by placing emphasis on the thoughts and observations of the artists themselves, revealing the social connections, artistic influences and personal relationships that united the group of radical practitioners at the centre of this new art movement.

Paintings by the Impressionists are beloved world-wide for the artistic innovation and visual curiosity they represent, as well as for their breath-taking use of colour. This exhibition will give audiences the extraordinary opportunity to study more than 100 masterworks up-close, including Monet’s radiant scenes of the French countryside, and to discover the truly revolutionary origins of this important moment in modern art history.

Tony Ellwood AM

Director, National Gallery of Victoria

French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts

The growth of the movement in subsequent decades is mapped through an exploration of the favoured subjects and ideas of the Impressionists. Moving through an immersive exhibition design, audiences will experience the hallmarks of Impressionism, including distinctive brushwork, unique points of view, arresting use of colour, as well as places dear to the artists, such as Paris, Fontainebleau Forest, Pontoise, Giverny, the Normandy coast and the South of France. Many artists also placed equal weight on recording movement and change in urban and domestic realms. Still life paintings, intimate interiors and street scenes by such artists as Manet, Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte will also feature.

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French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts

These broader themes are punctuated by focused sections of the exhibition that examine significant moments and characteristics in the practices of a selection of artists, including Renoir and his experimentation with pictorial effects in the 1880s, as well as Pissarro and his role as mentor to a number of other artists. 

An exhibition highlight will be a breathtaking display of sixteen canvases by Claude Monet, arranged in an immersive display reminiscent of the distinctive, oval gallery Monet helped design for his famous Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, between 1922 and his death in 1926. Painted over a thirty-year period, these paintings depict many of Monet’s most beloved scenes of nature in Argenteuil, the Normandy coast, the Mediterranean coast and his extraordinary garden in Giverny. Together, these paintings demonstrate the full scope of the artist’s immeasurable contribution to the Impressionist movement.  

French Impressionism from The Museum of Fine Arts

MFA Boston’s significant collection of French Impressionism benefitted from the collecting efforts of individual Bostonians, some of whom visited the artists in France during the movement’s height. Mary Cassatt, an American-born artist integral to the French Impressionist movement and whose work is featured in the exhibition, advocated among her fellow Americans for their patronage of her French colleagues, ensuring that many great Impressionist paintings found their way into important American collections.

French Impressionism, presented by the National Gallery of Victoria in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will run 4 June to 3 October 2021 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

Further information is available via the NGV website.

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