Breathtaking Old Masters go on exhibit in Jackson

March 30, 2013 4:16:10 PM

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JACKSON - The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson has opened the exhibit Old Masters to Monet: Three Centuries of French Painting from the Wadsworth Atheneum. It will be on view through Sept. 8. It is the 13th presentation in The Annie Laurie Swaim Hearin Memorial Exhibition Series. Established in 1989 to honor the memory of Annie Laurie Swaim Hearin, one of the Museum's most dedicated patrons and volunteers, the Hearin series showcases exhibitions of world-class art, attracting visitors to Jackson from across Mississippi, the Southeast and beyond. 

 

Old Masters to Monet features 50 masterpieces from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn. The outstanding artworks provide a history of French painting, ranging from the 17th through the 19th centuries and into the beginning of the 20th century and include religious and mythological subjects, portraits, landscapes, still lifes and genre scenes. 

 

The Wadsworth Atheneum is America's oldest public art museum, founded in 1843, and has never presented a full-scale survey of its distinguished collection of French paintings. To honor the recent publication of its collection catalogue, the Atheneum has launched a tour of 50 of these outstanding masterpieces.  

 

"The Mississippi Museum of Art is honored to be one of the select venues to host this important exhibition," said Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. "In keeping with our mission of engaging Mississippians in the visual arts, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity for our visitors to come face to face with some of the most historically valued French paintings held in any museum collection."  

 

 

 

17th through 19th century 

 

The exhibition begins with the great 17th-century masters, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Simon Vouet, and Jacques Stella, all of whom spent time in Rome and whose work embodies Italianate ideas of beauty, classical sculpture, and ideal landscape. Poussin's enormous Crucifixion, painted in 1646 for President Jacques-Auguste de Thou, and Lorrain's Landscape with St. George and the Dragon, commissioned by Cardinal Fausto Poli in 1641, are among the most important French paintings residing in the United States.  

 

The18th-century works present a rich tapestry of life in France during the rococo age. There are several scenes and portraits of aristocrats, including the Portrait of the Duchesse de Polignac by the era's leading painter of women, Madame Vigée-Lebrun. Genre scenes rendered during this period exhibit a decidedly risqué bent as well as humorous aspects of life, both of which are evident in paintings on view by Jean Baptiste Greuze, François Boucher, and Louis Leopold Boilly. 

 

A series of diverse trends unfolds during the 19th century. There is the vigorous Romanticism of Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix; pastoral and realistic landscapes by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Jules Dupré, Gustave Courbet, and Pierre-Etienne-Theodore Rousseau; the academicism of William Adolphe Bourguereau, Jehan Georges Vibert, and Henri Paul Motte, whose Trojan Horse of 1874 is the most recent French painting purchased by the Atheneum.  

 

 

 

The impressionists 

 

Perhaps the most exciting group of works in the exhibition is the selection of the impressionists, and no picture better captures the essence of this popular school than Pierre-Auguste Renoir's famous painting of his friend Claude Monet at work in the garden of their rented home at Argenteuil in 1873. In addition, there are two paintings by Monet himself -- the 1870 Beach at Trouville and the 1904 depiction of his Nymphéas (Water Lilies).  

 

Also included are examples by their colleagues Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne. The younger post-impressionistic generation is represented by Louis Anqutin's seminal Avenue de Clichy, a view of a Parisian boulevard on a rainy evening. This painting had a profound effect on Vincent van Gogh, whose own powerful Self-Portrait of about 1887 is included.  

 

Finally there are the intimist painters: Paul Ranson, Edouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard, all of whom focus on interiors. 

 

This exhibition was organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.  

 

 

 

How to go 

 

Admission for adults is $12, seniors (60+) $10, children (6-college) $6, children 5 and under free. Museum members attend free. Group rates are available. Call 601-960-1515 to book a group tour. Educational resources are available to educators upon request. The Museum is located at 380 South Lamar Street in Jackson.  

 

Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays. For more information, call 601-960-1515 or 1-866-VIEW ART (843-9278), or visit msmuseumart.org.