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Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neigeby Charles S Moffett
Synopses & Reviews
Impressionsts in Winter: Effets de Neige presents the first thorough investigation of the subject of Impressionist winter landscape. The subject of winter - clearly the most inhospitable season for plein-air painting - provides some of the most exceptional and most spellbindingly beautiful paintings in Impressionism.
No exhibition and no publications in the literature on Impressionism have been devoted to this theme before. While such a thematic approach might seem at first blush a superficial one, the subject of this exhibition goes to the heart of one of the central issues of Impressionism, a dedication to painting specific effects of weather and light that is unprecedented in the history of art.
Inspired by Alfred Sisley's Snow at Louveciennes in The Phillips Collection, this exhibition of sixty-three works presents an opportunity to consider the subject of snow in Impressionist painting in an unprecedented way. While anyone might have come across one or two of these exceptional works in various works in this country or abroad, it comes as a surprise to most to learn that the Impressionists painted hundreds of paintings of snow or effets de neige, as they came to be called.
Of all the Impressionists, three artists especially were drawn to paint effets de neige: Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro. Their shared fascination with these 'effets' led all three to repeatedly seek out opportunities to paint landscapes in snow. Yet each brought to the subject a highly individual response that we find reflected in the paintings assembled here. In addition to these three artists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte and Paul Gauguin also painted snowscapes, though far fewer. Renoir's characteristic interest in a social gathering of skaters in the Bois de Boulogne, Caillebotte's dramatic elevated views over Paris, and Gauguin's rare Brittany snowscapes add dimension and contrast to the dedicated pursuit of winter landscape just outside Paris of Monet, Sisley, and Pisarro. The result is a wider range of winter scenes from the bucolic French countryside to ice floes on the Seine, from the paths and roads of small villages to the boulevards and rooftops of Paris. Their common ground is an obsession with winter light.
Most of us do not think of Paris-or the surrounding countryside-covered in snow. We do not anticipate a blizzard impeding winter travel to this part of of the world nor have we ever seen the Seine frozen solid. A very different weather pattern prevailed during the late 19th century. Snowfalls, blizzards, and frost were a fairly commen winter occurrence. Two of the most severe periods of extended cold since 1840 occurred during the winters of 1879-80 and 1890-91. In order to provide a backdrop of recorded weather conditions of the period, we brought together documentation from numerous sources to describe precisely the winter weather during the years covered by this exhibition . The weather was at times described as 'wolf-like' or 'Siberian,' and once was compared to the North Pole. These vivid accounts not only have helped us to assign dates to certain undated works, but also have provided a context for appreciating the impact of weather conditions on life in France in the late nineteenth century.
The work of the Impressionists during the winter months resulted in many paintings of extraordinary beauty and character. This publication will be the first to examine the technical, stylistic and thematic evolution of snowscapes and winter scenes in the paintings of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre-August Renoir and Paul Gauguin and to trace the development of snowscapes in the careers of these artists.
Sixty-three major winter landscape paintings from collections around the world are reproduced in full-page color plates together with additional color details, contemporary illustrations, prints and photographs. This beautiful book will be a ground-breaking study of a neglected area.
Collects works by French impressionist painters to commemorate the 1998/1999 exhibition.
An illustrated catalogue of 63 major winter landscapes by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Calliebotte and Gauguin.
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