Landmark Exhibition of Claude Monet’s Paintings of the River Seine Opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in October 2014
Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa
Reunites canvases from the painter’s acclaimed Mornings on the Seine series with earlier works depicting landscape and leisure along the French river
HOUSTON—May 28, 2014—“I have painted the Seine throughout my life, at every hour, at every season,” Claude Monet once said. “I have never tired of it: for me the Seine is always new.” In October 2014, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will present Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River, an exhibition that chronicles Monet’s abiding fascination with the iconic French waterway. A selection of 52 paintings by the Impressionist painter will be displayed, beginning with scenes of leisure activities, modern life and cityscapes along the Seine River and culminating in the ethereal works from the famous Mornings on the Seine series (1896–97). Monet and the Seine will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from October 26, 2014, to February 1, 2015.
Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River has been co-curated by Helga Aurisch, curator of European art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Tanya Paul, Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, to examine Monet’s attachment to the Seine by tracing his life along the river, both chronologically and geographically.
“This beautiful show brings together more than 50 works loaned from almost as many locations, from rural Shelburne, Vermont, to Shizuoka, Japan,” said Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “These canvases provide an intimate look at the Seine, one of the subjects most essential to Monet’s identity as an artist.”
“No subject fascinated Monet more than the Seine, which inspired a vast number of paintings and surpassed even his defining series of water lilies by more than one hundred works,” said Aurisch. “In his sustained and persistent treatment, Monet captured every aspect of life on the river and used it from an early point in his career to explore many of the artistic concerns that define his oeuvre, such as the transformative effects of light and atmosphere.”
Monet (1840–1926) grew up in Le Havre, a port city at the mouth of the Seine, and although he spent several years in Paris, where in 1874 he spearheaded the group of young artists who came to be known as Impressionists, he chose more often to live outside the capital, in smaller towns on the banks of the river. The French towns of Argenteuil, Vétheuil, Poissy and Giverny all served as home bases from which the artist explored the surrounding countryside and the Seine itself, crossed by new road and railway bridges, dotted with pleasure boats and shipping vessels, filled with ice floes or glowing with sunlight. In hundreds of paintings he captured every aspect of life on the river and chronicled the ever-changing nature and poetic beauty of the river itself. Monet once famously gestured at the Seine and remarked, “This is my studio.”
In 1898, Monet exhibited works from a painting series entitled Mornings on the Seine to great critical acclaim. Each canvas focused on the same spot on the Seine near Monet’s Giverny home, where he anchored his studio-boat before dawn in order to capture the pale light and indefinable colors of the mist-covered river at daybreak. These paintings, perhaps the most refined and contemplative expression of the serial approach Monet had been using throughout the decade, confirmed his reputation as the dean of French landscape. This series of ethereal, nearly abstract paintings is the culmination of the exhibition and the artist’s exploration of his subject.
A smaller variation of the exhibition, focusing on the Mornings on the Seine series, opens first at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, where it is on view from June 29, 2014 to September 21, 2014.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River, copublished by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Philbrook Museum of Art. Coauthored by Helga Kessler Aurisch and Tanya Paul, the volume also includes essays by Michael Clarke and Richard R. Brettell.
Organization and Funding
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa. An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Lead Corporate Sponsor:
Additional generous funding is provided by:
The Rand Group
Carol and Michael and the Michael C. Linn Family Foundation
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About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 65,000 works and spans the art of antiquity to the present.
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