Twenty-two Impressionist Works Donated to the Denver Art Museum

1. Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
Seascape at Arcachon or Arcachon in Beautiful Weather, 1871
Oil on canvas - 23 x 32 cm
Denver, Art Museum

19/1/14 - Acquisitions - Denver, Art Museum - Some museums are lucky enough to have a good fairy watching over them ; the one at the Denver Art Museum is 85 years old, made his money in the oil business and his name is Frederic C. Hamilton. This collector, who was on the msueum’s Board of Directors for about thirty years, Chairman from 1994 to 2013, funded a building additon in 2006.
Today he is bequeathing, in the form of a promised gift, twenty-two paintings, mainly landscapes, and almost all Impressionist exclusively by famous artists for the most part. The museum which holds some works by Monet and Pissarro did not own any paintings by Van Gogh, Manet nor Caillebotte. This ensemble is thus a very welcome addition to the European art collection of the late 19th century. It is now on view - for the first time ever in fact - as part of the exhibition currently presented at the museum until 9 February : "Passport for Paris".
A marine by Manet which had come up for auction at Sotheby’s in 2004, depicts the bay at Arcachon with swift strokes in clement weather (ill. 1) ; it dates back to the artist’s stay in Bordeaux, after the War of 1870 and is part of his early work outdoors.
Cézanne is represented with A Painter at Work, around 1874 (ill. 2) : the picturesque figure is not leaning over his easel but rather crouched in front of his paint box, a gray form amid vibrant shades of green.

2. Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
A Painter at Work, c. 1874-1875
Oil on panel - 24 x 34 cm
Denver, Art Museum

3. Eugene Boudin (1824-1898)
Le Havre, Boats Anchored at Port about 1868-1872
Oil on panel - 23 x 32 cm
Denver, Art Museum

4. Eugene Boudin (1824-1898)
A Pasture in Normandy, 1880’s
Oil on panel - 30,5 x 43,3 cm
Denver, Art Museum

5. Eugène Boudin (1824-1898)
Beach Scene at Trouville, 1881
Oil on panel - 19,5 x 33,6 cm
Denver, Art Museum

There are three paintings, and three different atmospheres, by Eugène Boudin : the port of Le Havre in 1868-1872, with the luminous gray of the sky and the sea outlined by the black silhouettes of the boats (ill. 3) ; in the 1880’s, the pastures of Normandy welcoming nonchalant cows (ill. 4) and the beaches of Trouville animated by ladies’ crinoline skirts (ill. 5). Indeed, with the arrival of the railroad, the first tourists and new forms of leisure made their appearance, evoked by Gustave Caillebotte as well, the painter of sailboats and straw hats ; he toys endlessly with water reflections and structures his composition with straight lines formed by the masts and the slim colored hulls of the boats which, apparently, interest him more than human figures (ill. 6). The artist, who owned a house in Petit Gennevilliers on the banks of the Seine, across from Argenteuil, also looked at dry land, illustrating the green and yellow shades of the surrounding fields (ill. 7).

6. Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
Boats Moored at Argenteuil, 1883
Oil on canvas - 54 x 65 cm
Denver, Art Museum

7. Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
The Fields, a Plain in Gennevilliers,
study in yellow and green
, c. 1884
Oil on canvas - 54 x 65 cm
Denver, Art Museum

Monet is ever-present of course in an Impressionist collection and four of his paintings will join the Nymphéas already residing in Denver. Three of these date from 1880-1885 and attempt to capture the many nuances of water and light using contrast : here the blue of the sea at Pourville is underscored by the orangy red of the fields running alongside (ill. 8) ; there, the red fishing boats are grounded in front of a gray sea (ill. 9) ; lastly, the impassive Seine near Giverny becomes a mirror reflecting the sky at dawn or dusk (ill. 10). The fourth painting captures the pink and blue reverberations of the snow, which seem to reflect the sky, a souvenir of Monet’s trip to Norway in 1895 (ill. 11).
Sisley of course also observed the banks of the Seine, at Bougival, in 1873 (ill. 12) ; another artist from the Hamilton collection appears to choose, almost, the same lookout point as he a few years later : Renoir, painting around 1882, shows us an identical perspective but under a different light (ill. 13).

8. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Road in the Wheatfields at Pourville, 1882
Oil on canvas - 65 x 81 cm
Denver, Art Museum

9. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Fishing Boats, 1883
Oil on canvas - 65 x 92 cm
Denver, Art Museum

10. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
The Seine near Giverny, 1885
Oil on canvas - 65 x 92 cm
Denver, Art Museum

11. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Houses in the Snow, Norway, 1895
Oil on canvas - 65 x 92 cm
Denver, Art Museum

Other works by Alfred Sisley include two landscapes of the surroundings at Moret-sur-Loing where the painter settled down in 1880 and died in 1899 (ill. 14 and 15). As for Renoir, the collection contains a second painting from a later period, 1916, which, like Cezanne’s Painter, shows a figure against a green backdrop, A Young Woman in a Garden whose clothes contrast in color with the décor (ill. 16) while Berthe Morisot prefers blending her figures into nature with A Lesson in the Garden (ill. 17).

12. Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
The Seine at Bougival, 1873
Oil on canvas - 32,4 x 46 cm
Denver, Art Museum

13. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Banks of the Seine, Bougival, c. 1882
Oil on canvas - 43 x 55 cm
Denver, Art Museum

14. Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
The Road from Veneux to Moret. a Spring Day, 1886
Oil on canvas - 61 x 73 cm
Denver, Art Museum

15. Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
The Loing River and the church at Moret- sur-Loing, 1888
OIl on canvas - 54 x 73 cm
Denver, Art Museum

16. Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Young Woman in a Garden
or Woman and Dog on the Grass, c. 1916
Oil on canvas - 39,7 x 50,8 cm
Denver, Art Museum

17. Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
A Lesson in the garden, 1886
Oil on canvas - 60 x 73 cm
Denver, Art Museum

Two paintings by Pissarro depict two seasons of the year and two periods of his career : the first evokes the thawing period in Louveciennes where the artist lived between 1869 and 1872, refining his Impressionist style (ill. 18) ; the second one celebrates spring in Eragny where he lived out the last years of his life and asserted his technique as a Pontillist (ill. 19).

18. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
The Thaw or Monsieur Musy’s House, Louveciennes, 1872
Oil on canvas - 32 x 45,2 cm
Denver, Art Museum

19. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Spring in Éragny, 1900
Oil on canvas - 65,4 x 81,5 cm
Denver, Art Museum

Finally, museum goers will admire a Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Poppies (ill. 20). The theme recurs often in his painting, but is usually treated horozintally. Here the artist chooses a vertical format which accompanies the movement of the wheat, limiting the flowers to a few red notes which animate the composition.

20. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Wheat Field with Poppies, 1887
Oil on panel - 40 x 32,4 cm
Denver, Art Museum

21. Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Walking in a Park or Springtime in a Park, c. 1900
Oil on canvas - 38,1 x 55,3 cm
Denver, Art Museum

22. William Merritt Chase,
Landscape at Shinnecock, 1897
Oil on canvas - 40,6 x 50,8 cm
Denver, Art Museum

Two Americans can be found in the group : William Merritt Chase whose landscapes are generally classified in two series, one describing New York in scenes of Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Central Park ; the second produced during his summers in Shinnecockle. The painting in the Hamilton collection (ill. 21) belongs to the second series and its composition is very similar to the famous Field of Poppies by Monet. His Impressionist manner was influenced perhaps by the exhibition organized by Durand-Ruel in New York in 1886. Merritt Chase traveled to Europe, studying in Munich, also visiting Venice before returning to New York where he taught at the Art Students League and was one of the founding members of the Society of American Artists. The other American here, Childe Hassam (ill. 22) was a member of Ten American Painters, a group of American Impressionists.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, dimanche 19 janvier 2014

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