William Bougureau's Birth of Venus, oil on canvas, 120" x 86", 1879.
This past long holiday weekend, the family and I made our way to Nashville, TN to see the beautiful exhibition at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts called Birth of Impressionism. This exhibition displays 100 paintings from the mid to late 19th century which are from the collection of the Musee d'Orsay. In comparing the contemporaneous academic and realist paintings of that time period to the paintings of the avant garde, this show seeks to show the evolution of Impressionism as a reaction against the Salon.
In walking thru this exhibit I kept finding myself drawn more to the examples of academic realism, the accepted Salon paintings or the earliest examples of Impressionism. I found myself rushing through the last two rooms of typical Impressionistic landscapes, trying to avoid looking too long at what my daughter brilliantly described as "scribble, scrabble". I've included some images of some of my favorite works from the show (many of which I first saw at the Musee d'Orsay in the summer of 1997).
Henri Fantin-Latour, Victoria Dubourg, oil on canvas, 36 3/8" x 29 7/8", 1873
Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran, Lady with a Glove, oil on canvas, 89 3/4" x 64 1/2", 1869
Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, oil on canvas, 40 1/4" x 57 5/8", 1875
This show is definitely worth a trip to Nashville to see these amazing paintings before they return to their home in Paris. The Birth of Impressionism continues through January 23, 2011. The Frist has also posted a short video of visitor reactions to the exhibit that you can view by clicking HERE. A favorite quote from the video a gentleman speaks about The Floor Scrapers painting "It said to me, that we are worked on by what we work on".