SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Until September 5, the San Antonio Art Museum (SAMA) presents âAmerican Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution,â an exhibition that explores the development of Impressionism in the United States . While Impressionism made its public debut in Paris with a shocking exhibition in 1874, the style did not fully take hold in America until more than a decade later, after a major exhibition of French works in New York in 1886. With this late arrival, American Impressionism could be understood simply as the adaptation of visual techniques and vocabularies perfected by French masters. Through more than 70 works assembled from public and private collections, “America’s Impressionism” redefines our understanding of movement to show how American artists have drawn on transatlantic exchanges to create an independent movement, uniquely shaped by American sensibilities. and regional landscapes.
Impressionism was one of the most enduring art styles ever produced, and its complex and often contradictory articulation in the United States has garnered interest for over a century. Yet the development of American Impressionism remains under-studied, and the artists who worked within the genre have not been given enough credit for how fully they appropriated this imported style. Showcasing works by Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, Willard Metcalf, Emma Richardson Cherry, Jane Peterson and Theodore Wendel, among many others, the exhibition reveals a more nuanced history of artistic exchanges between the United States and France at the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the trajectories of Impressionism across the Atlantic.
Claude Monet modeled a form of Impressionism that particularly appealed to American artists, and the exhibition includes a selection of works that represent an enclave of Americans working in Giverny under his tutelage, including Metcalf and Wendel. While American artists working overseas in Europe relied on Impressionist pedagogy, artists working in communities across the United States truly established an Americanized version of the international style. As these artists developed their own aesthetic approaches and techniques, American Impressionism took on specific regional characteristics. For example, in the Northeast, where Impressionism flourished, it was refined by artists featured in the exhibit, such as Daniel Garber, who worked at New Hope, Penn., John Henry Twachtman at Cos Cob , Connecticut, and Childe Hassam in Massachusetts. and New York. The exhibition traces the presence of Impressionism as it actively moved from northeast to southwest and towards the California coast, creating a rich and complex national fabric of artistic interpretation.
As Impressionism spread to the West, Texas also became an important place. To interest audiences in this particular story, SAMA’s presentation of âThe Impressionism of Americaâ will feature works by Texan artists including Onderdonk, Dawson Dawson-Watson and JosÃ© Arpa, among others. These paintings come from the permanent collection of SAMA as well as from local private collections. American Impressionists were drawn to the varied landscapes of Texas, from the wildflowers of the hills to the plains of North Texas and the barren countryside of West Texas.
The SAMA presentation is further distinguished by the incorporation of masterpieces from the San Antonio-based Marie and Hugh Halff Collection, a collection of American Impressionist paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the many works on display are the striking painting “The Bathers” by Frederick Carl Frieseke (c. 1914), “The New York Bouquet” by Childe Hassam (1917) and “Girl Cutting Patterns” by Edmund C. Tarbell (1907- 08).
Originally curated by Amanda C. Burdan of the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the exhibition is also co-curated by SAMA and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tenn.
The San Antonio Art Museum is located at 200 West Jones Avenue. For more information, 210-978-8100 or www.samuseum.org.
“On the Gallery, to the Pines” by Emma Richardson Cherry (American, 1859-1954), 1896, oil on canvas, 24 by 36 inches, Collection of Juli and Sam Stevens.
âPoppy Field (Landscape at Giverny)â by Willard Metcalf (American, 1858-1925), 1886, oil on canvas, 10- by 18-5 / 16 inches. Collection of J. Jeffrey and Ann Marie Fox.
“Old Farm, Giverny” by Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), 1900, oil on canvas, 25Â¾ by 32 inches. San Antonio Art Museum, purchased with funds provided by the Lillie and Roy Cullen Endowment Fund.
“Dorothea in the Woods” by Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942), 1897, oil on canvas, 53Â¼ by 40Â¼ inches. Whitney Museum of American Art; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz, Inv. N. 70.158, digital image Â© Whitney Museum of American Art / licensed from Scala / Art Resource, NYC.
“Gray Day on the Charles” by John Leslie Breck (American, 1860-1899), 1894, oil on canvas, 18 x 22 inches, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art , 90,151. Photo: Katherine Wetzel / Â© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
“Feeding Chickens, Monterey” by E. Charlton Fortune (American, 1886-1969), 1918, oil on canvas, 28 by 26 inches. Crocker Art Museum, Melza and Ted Barr Collection, 2010.9. Photo Â© Museum Associates / LACMA.
“Yacht Club Basin, Cos Cob Harbor” by Theodore Robinson (1852-1896), 1894, oil on panel, 19 by 22Â½ inches. Brandywine River Art Museum, Richard M. Scaife Bequest.
“June Fields” by Edward G. Eisenlohr (American, 1872-1961), 1915, oil on canvas, 24 canvas by 36Â¼ inches. Dallas Museum of Art, The Barrett Collection, Dallas, Texas, 15.15.2007.
“Grainstacks, Giverny” by Theodore Earl Butler (American, 1861-1936), circa 1897, oil on canvas, 21 by 28Â¼ inches. Dixon Gallery and Gardens, museum purchase by the Dixon Life Members Society, 1991. 4.
“Spring” by Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), 1901, oil on canvas, 26 by 36 inches. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Edwin J. Kiest.