Works by some of France’s most celebrated painters are featured in From the Collection: 300 Years of French Landscape Painting, a new exhibition opening July 17 at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Curated by Lawrence W. Nichols, William Hutton senior curator of European and American painting and sculpture before 1900, this small, insightful show offers a chronological survey of the French approach to painting landscapes.
“Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition includes a single, stunning example selected from each of the many styles of representation that define the tradition of rendering nature,” Nichols said.
Beginning with Claude Lorrain’s 17th-century classicism and François Boucher’s Rococo fantasy, it continues through the 19th century with Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (Neoclassicism), Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau (Barbizon School), Gustave Courbet (Realism), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Impressionism) and concludes with Paul Cézanne (Post-Impressionism).
“This exhibition is unusual in that paintings spanning three centuries are being installed chronologically in the gallery. Visitors will be able to see the common threads among these artists as well as the emergence of new styles,” Nichols noted.
Among the works displayed are the Museum’s recently acquired Charles–François Daubigny painting, Auvers, Landscape with Plough, in which the French countryside is realistically captured, and Renoir’s Road at Wargemont, which focuses on the effect of light and color in nature.
“Daubigny is considered to be part of the Barbizon School, but in this particular painting you can see the influence of Impressionism emerging in his work. Renoir paints a real place, but he is more interested in using emotional means to express it,” Nichols said, comparing them.
The curator said he hopes those looking at the landscape paintings “will be inspired to go out and photograph nature, to draw nature, to create earth art, or go and look for more landscapes in the Museum’s other galleries.”
From the Collection: 300 Years of French Landscape Painting continues through Oct. 11 in Gallery 18. The exhibition is made possible by members of the Toledo Museum of Art and in part through the sustainable grant program of the Ohio Arts Council.
Admission to the exhibition and to the Museum is free. For more information, visit toledomuseum.org.