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The Chrysler Museum of Art

Exhibition Detail
Upstairs/Downstairs
245 West Olney Road
Norfolk, Virginia 23510


October 10th, 2012 - December 30th, 2012
 
The Family, Mary CassattMary Cassatt, The Family,
1892, Oil on canvas
© Courtesy of The Chrysler Museum of Art
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> DESCRIPTION

This exhibition is dedicated to the proposition that despite our renovation and expansion, some of our best-known works should remain on view as long as possible. The title comes from our moving items from galleries upstairs, most notably, Gallery 274, our sometimes-called Impressionist Gallery, to a new location downstairs.

The Chrysler has long been celebrated for its distinguished collection of European and American painting and sculpture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—so much so that soon we'll be appearing in a new book on hidden-gem art museums.

Many of the works on display here were created in the full flower of Impressionism, when artists like Pierre Auguste Renoir and Childe Hassam devised a free, open painting technique and brilliant rainbow palette to capture the fleeting effects of nature's color and light. We'll look at four examples here.

Frederick Childe Hassam, At the Florist, oil on canvas, 1889.
In this early morning glimpse of a Paris flower market, a young shop girl in a crisp white apron attends a customer who surveys the profusion of colorful blooms for sale. The painter, Childe Hassam, was then well on his way to becoming one of America's premier Impressionists. He was also a master at sensing the poetic connections in the world around him. Consider the dazzling white paper cones that encircle the bouquets and they way they mimic the shape of the apron worn by the shop girl. Hassam's visual analogy offers a subtle comparison between the fresh blossoms and the girl's youthful beauty.

Mary Cassatt, The Family, oil on canvas, 1892.
Cassatt bucked traditional expectations of marriage and motherhood and left her native Philadelphia to pursue painting in Paris. After submitting her work to the official Salon, her friend Edgar Degas invited Cassatt to exhibit instead with him and the other Impressionists. The only American among them, she took part in all but one of the group's shows and maintained a special kinship with Degas.

Henri Fantin-Latour, Portrait of Leon Matire, oil on canvas, 1886.
Both Henri Fantin-Latour and his friend Leon Maitre belonged to a distinguished circle of artists, musicians, and intellectuals in late-19th-century Paris. Several of the Impressionists also belonged to that group and numbered among Fantin's closest friends. Nevertheless, Fantin rejected their brushy, colorful way of painting for a more sober realist style. That style is fully revealed in the portrait here.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Daughters of Durand-Ruel, oil on canvas, 1882.
This charming double portrait was painted entirely out-of-doors, and it retains the vibrant palette and vigorous open brushwork of Renoir's "pure" Impressionist paintings of the later 1870s. The artist gives way to the transforming effects of the dappled summer sun filtering through the chestnut trees. The girls' white summer dresses are awash in delicate shadows that the artist describes in purple, blue, pink, and yellow tones and touches of white impasto.


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