The New York Botanical Garden continues to explore the connections between the plant world and the arts through captivating flower shows and fine art in its upcoming exhibition, Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas, from May 14 through September 11, 2016. During this Garden-wide exhibition, visitors will experience the horticultural inspiration behind American Impressionism as well as view more than 20 Impressionist artworks.
In the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries of the Enid A. Haupt
Conservatory, visitors will stroll through an American Impressionist
garden inspired by the paintings of iconic artists, including William
Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, and John Singer Sargent. The horticultural
exhibition is designed by Francisca Coelho, the Garden’s Vivian and
Edward Merrin Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions, who has
re-imagined gardens for NYBG exhibitions, including Emily Dickinson’s
Victorian garden in Amherst, Massachusetts; Claude Monet’s flower and
water gardens in Giverny, France; and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul garden in
Coelho’s American Impressionist garden will feature an ebullient mix
of the old-fashioned flowers depicted in paintings of the gardens of
Florence Griswold, Celia Thaxter, John Twachtman, and other celebrated
gardeners of the era. Under Coelho’s direction, NYBG horticulturists
will plant tens of thousands of cornflowers, larkspur, hollyhocks,
peonies, columbines, and hundreds of other cheerful bulbs, annuals,
biennials, and perennials in beds and borders lining the walkways.
Visitors will stroll beneath trellises adorned with morning glories,
through grassy meadows dotted with poppies, and along beds of irises of
every color of the rainbow. They will be encouraged to sit on chairs on
the porch of a charming New England cottage with views of the whole
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery at NYBG will exhibit a
complementary display of more than 20 paintings and sculptures by Chase,
Hassam, Sargent, and their contemporaries that captures the colors,
shadows, and ephemeral quality of light the artists observed in the
natural world and infused in their distinctive imagery.
The garden of Florence Griswold, the doyenne of the Old Lyme,
Connecticut artist colony, is depicted in
Edmund William Greacen’s In
Miss Florence’s Garden (1913).
Chase’s Landscape: Shinnecock, Long
Island (ca. 1896)
and Park in Brooklyn (1887) portray luscious
landscapes of familiar East Coast sites.
Sargent’s The Fountain of Oceanus (1917) features a sculpture at Kykuit, the John D. Rockefeller
Estate in Pocantico Hills, New York.
Childe Hassam’s Horticulture
Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago (1893) depicts a social
scene in front of a Victorian glasshouse similar to NYBG’s Haupt
Three bronze sculptures are also included in the
exhibition, most notably Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington’s grand Diana of
the Chase (ca. 1922), which at 99 inches tall will be on display in the
Library Gallery Rotunda. Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas is
guest curated by Linda S. Ferber, Ph.D., Senior Art Historian and Museum
Director Emerita of The New-York Historical Society.
American Impressionists in the U.S. created an identity unique from
their French peers by painting self-consciously American subjects:
notably, the American garden. Many American Impressionists and their
spouses were avid gardeners, and parallels were often made between
gardening and Impressionism. In a departure from other exhibitions on
this artistic period, Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas will
examine exclusively American gardens as a compelling subject for
American Impressionists during an era of vibrant gardening culture,
evoking this period through a garden designed and created in the Haupt
Conservatory for visitors to experience.