National Gallery of Art Reopens Newly Renovated and Freshly Installed 19th-Century FrenchExhibition Galleries

. January 30, 2012 . 0 Comments

Following a two-year renovation, the galleries devoted to impressionism and post-impressionism in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art reopened to the public on January 28, 2012. Among the greatest collections in the world of paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin, the Gallery’s later 19th-century French paintings will return to public view in a freshly conceived installation design.

Edouard Manet, The Railway, 1873, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer

“The Gallery’s French impressionist and post-impressionist holdings, comprising nearly 400 paintings, are among the most prized in the collection, and rightly so,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “While the appearance of these revered rooms has changed very little—preserving the conditions of light, the room proportions, and wall colors that make the Gallery one of the great places to view art in the world—the paintings themselves will be shown in a newly innovative arrangement.”

The new installation is organized into thematic, monographic, and art historical groupings. The “new” Paris of the Second Empire and the Third Republic are highlighted through cityscapes by Manet, Renoir, and Pissarro. Showcasing sun-dappled landscapes and scenes of suburban leisure, a gallery of “high impressionism” masterpieces of the 1870s is prominently located off the East Sculpture Hall, including such beloved works as Monet’s The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil (1880) and Renoir’s Girl with a Hoop (1885). A gallery is devoted to the sophisticated color experiments of late Monet, while Cézanne’s genius in landscape, still-life, and figure painting is explored in another. Paintings exemplifying the bold innovations of Van Gogh and Gauguin are displayed along with Degas’ later, experimental works in one gallery, followed by a room of canvases by artists such as Delacroix, Renoir, and Matisse celebrating exoticism and the sensual use of color and paint handling. The final gallery is dedicated to the Parisian avant-garde circa 1900: Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Rousseau, and early Picasso.

The recently acquired Black Rocks at Trouville (1865/1866) by Gustave Courbet will be on view for the first time in the French galleries. Additionally, 13 works have been newly restored. Most of these will be on view in the West Building galleries, including Renoir’s sparkling Parisian view of the Pont Neuf (1872), his ever-popular Girl with a Watering Can (1876), Monet’s classic Bridge at Argenteuil (1874), and an 1867 portrait of Monet’s newborn son Jean in his cradle.

During the two-year period of repair, restoration, and renovation, works normally on view in these galleries were either in storage, on loan, or featured in a special installation—From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection—in the West Building Ground Floor galleries. Some 50 of the greatest works from this collection were included in major exhibitions shown in Houston, Tokyo, and Kyoto.

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery’s Web site at www.nga.gov

Category: Exhibition News