Wednesday, January 2, 2013

American Impressionism: Hassam, Sloan

An exhibition on view through April 7, 2013 at the Huntington Museum of Art.

The first group exhibit of works by the French Impressionists took place in Paris, France, in 1874. Ironically, few of the American artists who later became known as American Impressionists took much notice of these exhibits while studying art in Paris. It seems hard to believe that this now famous group of artists which includes Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Gustave Caillebotte exhibited together only eight times, until 1886, but their painting style had a marked influence on artists around the world – and on the history of art.

Many young American artists traveled to Paris in the 1870s and 1880s, then the art capital of the world, to round out their American academic art studies, the majority at the Académie Julian.

The first American Impressionist canvases painted in the United States by repatriated artists occurred in the late 1880s (with the exception of expatriate artists John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt who were creating impressionist paintings earlier), following a flurry of U.S. exhibits of French Impressionist works, and the interest of a number of prominent American collectors in acquiring works by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Manet, Sisley and others – thus validating the style in America.

American impressionist painters often combined academic training with the more radical impressionist techniques, selecting and focusing on one or more of the tenets of impressionism such as incorporating a broken brush work, prismatic light, atmospheric and/or climate effects on an object, observing, sketching and painting out-of-doors (en plein air), or the depiction of modern subject matter – especially leisure-time activities.

The permanent collection of the Huntington Museum of Art holds a treasure trove of American Impressionist paintings. This exhibition will present these important and popular works painted by many of the best-known American impressionists including Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Willard L. Metcalf, John H. Twachtman, Frank Benson, Edward Willis Redfield, W. Elmer Schofield, Arthur Meltzer, and many others. –