French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

NGV International

Ground Level

4 Jun – 3 Oct | Book tickets

Open 10am–5pm daily

MELBOURNE WINTER MASTERPIECES 2021

In an international exclusive, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) presents a major exhibition of more than 100 masterworks of French Impressionism in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), an institution renowned world-wide for its rich holdings of Impressionist paintings. Part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series, French Impressionism features works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt and more – including 79 works that have never-before-been exhibited in Australia. These important loans from the MFA’s iconic collection provide the rare opportunity to see a significant grouping of Impressionist masterworks in Australia.

French Impressionism charts the trajectory of the late-nineteenth century artistic movement, highlighting the key milestones and figures at the centre of this period of experimentation and revolution in modern art. Through an arresting display of paintings and works on paper that showcases the breadth of the movement, the exhibition evokes the artistic energy and intellectual dynamism of the period by placing emphasis on the thoughts and observations of the artists themselves, revealing the social connections, artistic influences and personal relationships that united the group of radical practitioners at the centre of this new art movement.

Presented thematically across ten sections, the exhibition opens with early works by Monet and his forebears, Eugène Boudin and painters of the Barbizon School, illustrating their profound influence on Monet’s use of the then radical method of painting outdoors en plein air (‘in the open air’) to capture changing conditions in nature. The growth of the movement in subsequent decades is mapped through an exploration of the favoured subjects and ideas of the Impressionists. Moving through an immersive exhibition design, audiences experience the hallmarks of Impressionism, including distinctive brushwork, unique points of view, arresting use of colour, as well as places dear to the artists, such as Paris, Fontainebleau Forest, Pontoise, Giverny, the Normandy coast and the South of France. Many artists also placed equal weight on recording movement and change in urban and domestic realms. Still life paintings, intimate interiors and street scenes by such artists as Manet, Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte also feature.

These broader themes are punctuated by focused sections of the exhibition that examine significant moments and characteristics in the practices of a selection of artists, including Renoir and his experimentation with pictorial effects in the 1880s, as well as Pissarro and his role as mentor to a number of other artists.

An exhibition highlight is a breathtaking display of sixteen canvases by Claude Monet, in an immersive arrangement reminiscent of the distinctive, oval gallery designed for his famous Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, between 1922 and his death in 1926. Painted over a thirty-year period, these paintings depict many of Monet’s most beloved scenes of nature in Argenteuil, the Normandy coast, the Mediterranean coast and his extraordinary garden in Giverny. Together, these paintings demonstrate the full scope of the artist’s immeasurable contribution to the Impressionist movement.

MFA Boston’s significant collection of French Impressionism benefited from the collecting efforts of individual Bostonians, some of whom visited the artists in France during the movement’s height. Mary Cassatt, an American-born artist integral to the French Impressionist movement and whose work is featured in the exhibition, advocated among her fellow Americans for their patronage of her French colleagues, ensuring that many great Impressionist paintings found their way into important American collections.

Partners

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston HSBC EY Telstra The University of Melbourne Corrs Chambers Westgarth Asahi Dulux Pommery Yering Herald Sun The Australian Val Morgan Smooth FM QMS Sofitel Melbourne Australian Government International Exhibitions Insurance Program National Gallery of Victoria Creative Victoria Melbourne
Melbourne Museum of Fine Arts, Boston HSBC EY Telstra The University of Melbourne Corrs Chambers Westgarth Asahi Dulux Champagne Pommery Yering Station Herald Sun The Australian Val Morgan Smooth FM QMS Sofitel Melbourne Australian Government International Exhibitions Insurance Program National Gallery of Victoria Creative Victoria

Works in this exhibition are protected under the Australian Government's Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Scheme. Find out more