The French Masters from the National Gallery of CanadaDecember 4, 2004 - December 4, 2004
Masterworks of 19th Century French Realism from the National Gallery of Canada
In the 19th century, French artists started to move away from mythological and historical painting to concentrate on the world around them. Where former generations of artists had regaled themselves with illustrations of narrative-based subject matter, the Realist movement sought to recreate the visible world. Gustave Courbet, who epitomized the movement, stated that “painting is essentially a concrete art” that is firmly entrenched in the visible world.
This exhibition draws on the National Gallery of Canada’s rich collection of 19th century French paintings to demonstrate the beginnings of Realism in the work of artists such as Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Honor? Daumier. Corot’s Bridge at Narni (above), the earliest work featured here, looks back to classical tradition yet hints at the beginnings of new landscape painting in France. Courbet, in his impressive Cliffs at ?tretat, demonstrates through the act of plein-air painting (painting in the “full air” in front of the landscape), the need to capture reality as it is directly perceived by the artist.
The works of artists, such as Jean-Fran?ois Millet and Johan Barthold Jongkind, provide important perspectives on the art of painting at the time. Millet’s interest in peasant life and Jongkind’s harbour scene reflect the growing interest in scenes of everyday life. The exhibition concludes with paintings by artists such as Edgar Degas, Paul C?zanne, Henri Fantin-Latour and James Tissot that provide the viewer with a remarkable synopsis of the painting of this period in France. Degas’ Woman with an Umbrella is a perfect example of Realist painting with its close and unidealized observation of the sitter. Tissot’s The Letter (below), while working from a firmly based narrative tradition, also regales the viewer with a sense of delight in his meticulously observed details of romance and intrigue.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Dr. John Collins, Assistant Curator, European Art, at the National Gallery of Canada. This exhibition is organized and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada. It is supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program.
front page image:
Edgar Degas Woman with an Umbrella, c. 1876
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Canada
French Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada
This exhibition features 76 French drawings from the 16th to the 19th centuries from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. Through an exceptional range of techniques and materials, the exhibition explores various aspects of the art of drawing, from the sketch to the finished work, addressing such varied subjects as historical or religious