Seattle Art Museum (SAM) presents Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, featuring the captivating work of 19th-century painters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition includes 71 paintings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and features a selection of intimately scaled Impressionist and Post-Impressionist still lifes, portraits and landscapes, whose charm and fluency invite close scrutiny.
“This important exhibition is comprised of extraordinary paintings, among the
jewels of one of the finest collections of French Impressionism in the world,” says Kimerly Rorschach, Seattle Art Museum’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “We are pleased to host these national treasures and provide our audience with the opportunity to enjoy works by Impressionist masters that are rarely seen in Seattle.”
Seattle is the last opportunity to view this exhibition following an international
tour that included Ara Pacis Museum of the Capitoline Museums, Rome; Fine
Arts Museums in San Francisco; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, and Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo.
The significance of this exhibition is grounded in the high quality of each
example and in the works’ variety of subject matter. The paintings’ dimensions reflect their intended function: display in domestic interiors. Their intimate nature is also embodied in the paintings’ themes—many are studies of the artists’ favorite places and depictions of people familiar to them, and the works often became gifts shared among friends.
The temporary closure of the National Gallery’s East Building for major renovation and expansion has made possible the rare opportunity to see this select group of paintings in Seattle.
Iconic subjects of the impressionists are represented in many of the canvases: ballerinas and racehorses by Edgar Degas, still lifes by Paul Cézanne and depictions of fashionable young women by Renoir. A more decorative use of color and pattern in the later paintings is shown in the work of Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, members of a group of Post-Impressionists known as the Nabis (Hebrew for “prophets”).
“These works, which are prominently presented in the East Building of the National Gallery, have long been treasured by the museum’s visitors and prized by art historians,” says Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture for the Seattle Art Museum. “Scaled for display in private residential settings, these compositions allowed artists to focus on pleasures of everyday life that might otherwise escape our notice: a favorite pet; delectable foods; the corner of a garden on a summer day; a quiet conversation.”
The majority of works come from the celebrated Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection,
given to the National Gallery of Art in 1970. This core group is bolstered by works from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and gifts of several other important collectors.
Intimate Impressionism is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay about the history of the collection by Mary Morton, curator and head of the department of French paintings at the National Gallery.
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Special
exhibitions at SAM are made possible by donors to the SAM Fund for Special
Exhibitions. Presenting sponsor is the Seattle Art Museum Supporters (SAMS).
Major sponsors are Delta Air Lines and Wells Fargo. Corporate sponsor is Sotheby’s. Media sponsors are KING 5 and The Seattle Times. Promotional partner is Visit Seattle.
ABOUT SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
As the leading visual art institution in the Pacific Northwest, SAM draws on its global collections, powerful exhibitions, and dynamic programs to provide unique educational resources benefiting the Seattle region, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. SAM was founded in 1933 with a focus on Asian art. By the late 1980s the museum had outgrown its original home, and in 1991 a new 155,000-square-foot downtown building, designed by Robert Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates, opened to the public. The 1933 building was renovated and reopened as the Asian Art Museum. SAM’s desire to further serve its community was realized in 2007 with the opening of two stunning new facilities: the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park
(designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects)—a “museum without walls,” free and open to all—and the Allied Works Architecture designed 118,000-square-foot expansion of its main, downtown location, including 232,000 square feet of additional space built for future expansion.
From a strong foundation of Asian art to noteworthy collections of African and Oceanic art, Northwest Coast Native American art, European and American art, and modern and contemporary art, the strength of SAM’s collection of more than 25,000 objects lies in its diversity of media, cultures and time periods.