This exquisite exhibition of more than fifty paintings includes many of the finest examples of French and American impressionist landscapes from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum as well as American impressionist paintings from the Akron Art Museum collection. The exhibition offers an in-depth look at landscape painting as practiced by such leading French artists as Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet and their most significant American followers including John Singer Sargent and Frederick Childe Hassam.
Among the earliest works in the exhibition are Charles-François Daubigny's The River Seine at Mantes (1856), and Gustave Courbet's Isolated Rock (1862), which reveal the impact of plein-air sketching practice on landscape art of the period. Heirs to this plein-air tradition, French impressionists Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and Gustave Caillebotte painted highly elaborated "impressions"—the seemingly spontaneous, rapidly executed landscapes and cityscapes that prompted the name of their movement. Monet is represented here by several works including Rising Tide at Pourville (1882), Vernon in the Sun (1894), and The Islets at Port-Villez (1897).
Following in the footsteps of the French archetypes, beginning at mid-century many American painters sought to improve their skills and find inspiration in Paris and its environs, attending French art academies and frequenting the painting locations made famous by their Barbizon and impressionist predecessors. Some of the Americans had direct contact with leading French landscape painters, sharing landscape sites or seeking informal guidance from admired mentors.
The majority of the American paintings depict American locales: beaches, factories, tenements, and notable subjects such as Central Park in works distinguished by brilliant colors and lively, broken brushwork, including Williams Glackens's Bathing at Bellport, Long Island (1912), Julian Alden Weir's Willimantic Thread Factory (1893), Robert Spencer's The White Tenement (1913), and Willard Leroy Metcalf's Early Spring Afternoon, Central Park (1911).
This exhibition has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum. Its presentation in Akron is made possible by a major gift from The Lehner Family Foundation.