Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Very Impressionistic Summer

A Renoir painting currently on exhibition at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841-1919.  Woman Arranging Her Hat, ca. 1890.  Oil on Canvas.  High Museum of Art.  Gift of Micheline and Bob Gerson.  2008.165.
 Those who are able to tolerate this summer's heat in Memphis are rewarded with not one but two extraordinary exhibits of Impressionist art.  These images that are now so popular and so easy-on-the-eyes were once considered not only avante garde but shocking, and eventually revolutionized the way we look at art.
At the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Monet to Cezanne/Cassatt to Sargent:  The Impressionist Revolution, the exhibit curated by Stanton Thomas, Curator of European and Decorative Arts, features over 100 paintings and works on paper as a collaborative effort by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with the Brooks, with works also from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis.  These three important collections of French and American Impressionism and Post-Impressionism feature works from many of the masters spanning the 1850s through the 1920s.  For more information click
A Forain pastel on exhibit at Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
Jean-Louis Forain, French, 1852-1931.  In Front of the Set, ca. 1895-1900.  Pastel on Paper.  Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Museum purchase with funds provided by Brenda and Lester Crain, Hyde Family Foundations, Irene and Joe Orgill and the Rose Family Foundation, 1993.7.30.
Also in Memphis, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is presenting the exhibition Jean-Louis Forain:  La Comedie parisienne, organized and produced with the Petit Palais, the Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris.  It is a landmark retrospective of Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931), a member of the Impressionist circle, protege of Degas, and mentor to Toulouse-Lautrec.  Assembled from museum and private collections world-wide, 130 paintings, pastels, drawings, lithographs and mosaics trace the artist's career over a fifty year time period.  For more information click

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, with the original building by James Gamble Rogers on the left.
Photo by John J Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
Regular readers of The Devoted Classicist will recall the essay on the original part of the Brooks Museum designed by New York Architect James Gamble Rogers featured in the May 31, 2011, post.  As a special feature of this remarkable pair of exhibitions, a General Admission ticket purchased at Brooks can be presented at Dixon for free admission, and vice-versa.  Brooks is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but Wednesdays are Pay-What-You-Can.  Dixon is closed on Mondays, but Tuesdays are Pay-What-You-Can and Saturdays are free from 10 to noon.  (These free admissions are corporate sponsored with private funding contributions).

Dixon Gallery and Gardens, with the original house by John F Staub on the right.
Photo by John J Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
The original part of the Dixon is a handsome house that was designed by Tennessee-native John F. Staub, best known for his work in Houston.  The Dixon residence will be featured in an up-coming essay on The Devoted Classicist.


  1. It looks to be an excellent exhibit! I wish I could visit and attend.


    Art by Karena

  2. Good for Memphis! I've done a Gamble Rogers drive-by in Atlanta thanks to your suggestions based on your Brooks Museum post. I don't think you showed the new part of the museum.

  3. The Dixon residence essay will be interesting to read.

  4. I hope lots and lots of people turn up to see the two exhibits of Impressionist art. Memphis has done very well.

    Yes impressionist theory and practice eventually revolutionised the way we look at art. However I find it hilarious that the Impressionists were once considered shocking, especially Renoir. Renoir's paintings of women and children were the most gentle and non-threatening paintings I have ever seen anywhere.

  5. Everywhere I go, I come across another Impressionist exhibit! Houston, Chicago, Richmond -- all the major museums have such shows up and running. I have a mixed appreciation of Renoir. When he's good he's very good, and when he's bad he's horrid! The Forrain is marvelous! Reggie

  6. Terry, in the shot of Brooks, the original marble building is in the foreground on the left and the rest is the latest addition in stucco.

    M.L.H.B., Staub was also the architect of Bayou Bend, the Ima Hogg home in Houston that is now a museum.

  7. Reggie, I think the Impressionists are helping to reinforce museum attendance this summer! Although Forain was far down my list of favorites, I must say this retrospective is very interesting, especially with his development so well represented. And his social commentary, such as this behind-the-scenes-view at the ballet, is fascinating.

  8. Karena, it is great that the two museums were able to each have a distinctive show that are also complimentary.

    Hels, yes it is hard for us today to think that the Impressionists were once considered shocking. Renoir's "Le Moulin de la Galette", for example, which depicted working girls and their customers (although most of the figures were actually friends of the artist) caused quite a controversy when it was first exhibited. And while many critics praised Renoir's fluid brushwork, others just saw it as blurred.

  9. I do not know why some comments to me within 30 minutes or so and others take 48 hours. But please know that your comments are welcome and any delay in posting is unavoidable.


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