Bilingual site shared with Nancy Snipper, acclaimed author and cultural affairs journalist. July 2016 ushers in her new site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Check it out!
Site bilingue partagé avec Nancy Snipper, auteur acclameé et journaliste des affaires culturelles. Juillet 2016 inaugure sa nouvelle site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Vérifiez-le!
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Saturday, 12 January 2013
Once Upon a Time ... Impressionism:
Paintings from the Clark
by Nancy Snipper
A stunning exhibition
of 75 Impressionist masterpieces is lighting up four grand rooms inside the
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as part of its world tour.The paintings have come from the Robert
Sterling Clark collection – one of the rarest and finest collections of the
genre in the world. “This selection focuses on the movement itself – its
genesis, context and legacy – so we can illustrate its coherence,” said
Nathalie Bondil, MMFA’s Director and Chief Curator who noted that
“impressionism has become the best loved and most popular art movement of all
There is so much to
say about the incredible paintings we can see at this intimate treasure as it
provides lasting visual memories. The collection first introduces us to the
Barbizon School of Impressionists who initiated plein aire painting in the Fontainebleau forest whose main village was Barbizon.
Millet, Daumier, Boudin, Jongkind and Tryon took their ‘lighting cue’ from the
paintings of Constable and Turner. I was struck by the stunning expanse of
forest and water scenes. But Rousseau felt Millet’s peasants looked like actor
dressed up to imitate these folk. In fact, what stands outs so wonderfully in
text in the exhibition are the words said by Renoir as he casts comments that
show his disdain for Parisian hypocrisy and pretension. As Impressionism caught
on as a way to gain status, he made the comment that people are hanging
investments on their walls, not paintings.
Corot: Bathers of the Borromean Isles
Renoir: Self-portrait 1875
Like Corot and Manet,
Renoir loved nature. He likened a tree to God – that for him a tree was far
more than a combination of carbon elements. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ladies are
so sensual, and real, we are not surprised when we read that Renoir felt only
women makes this world tolerable.
Renoir: Sleeping Girl
As we move from painting
to painting, our eyes feast on so many genius talents whose brush strokes are
as varied as the robes, flowers and skies and waves that they painted. Pissarro
with his pointealesque innovation and Seurat with his wet on wet techniques,
and let us not leave out Degas whose dancers and horses garnered great praise
from Renoir who felt he was the only painter who knew how to capture movement.
One of the great
masterpieces hung near Bouguereau’s ‘Seated Nude’ and Tissot’s ‘Chrysanthemums’
were two gems by Boldini. The minute textured realism captured in the velvet
robe and dress that his ladies wear as seen in ‘Young Woman Crocheting’ and
‘Crossing the Street’ are second to none in the exhibition.
Boldini: Young Woman Crocheting
No doubt about it,
these 18th and 19th-century masters of lighting, texture,
mood and magnificent nature - captured in a still life or a seascape full of
boats bobbing on waves - are immortal. Who else can paint onions and apples and
make us what to pick them up off the canvas, but Renoir? Who else can paint
peonies so magnificently that we can smell them as we stare at disbelief at
their realism and beauty but Renoir? Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Gérôme,
Morisot and more timeless talents are in this inspiring exhibition that is a