Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Birth of Impressionism at the Frist

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).

Alfred Stevens, Le Bain, oil on canvas, 29 7/8" x 36 5/8", 1867

Henri Fantin-Latour, Victoria Dubourg, oil on canvas, 36 3/8" x 29 7/8", 1873

Henri Fantin-Latour, Antoine Vollon, oil on canvas, 11 7/8" x 7 1/8", 1865

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".


  1. These are great. Thanks for sharing

  2. Just curious, which paintings did she refer to as the scribble scrabble?

  3. Hi Anthony, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for taking a look.

    Frank, my daughter was specifically speaking of Edouard Manet's painting Woman with Fans from 1873. Its a larger than life size woman reclining on a couch.

    Here's a link to an image of it:

  4. Well, doesn't seem that scribbly to me. Seems like the show has a good range of styles though. Thanks for sending me the link.

  5. Yeah Frank, I know it's not too scribbley but compared to her favorite (the Birth of Venus) anything would seem like scribble scrabble.

  6. la bain is one of my faves... nice pick