I wonder how it happened. Did Monet and Renoir retire to Monet’s studio after supper, where, Monet, tired from a day of work, lit his pipe and picked up his book, while Renoir began to paint? Did Renoir say, “Hold it right there my friend!”. Was it a natural evolution, a free and easy familiarity between friends? Was it Renoir’s studio that Monet visited that evening?
We will never know.
But aren’t we lucky that the Impressionists found these irresistible moments and laboured to capture them?
Come visit the Seattle Art Museum and the Intimate Impressionism exhibition with me. This exhibition just took my breath away.
Painting after painting. Rare glimpses into everyday moments. True life. An Impressionistic reality show.
This next painting is Madame Camille Monet and her son Jean by Renoir.
I wonder what lead up to this painting.
Later, Monet recounts this conversation: “Manet, enthralled by the colour and the light, undertook an outdoor painting of (Camille and Jean) under trees. During the sitting, Renoir arrived. . . . He asked me for palette, brush and canvas, and there he was, painting away alongside Manet. The latter was watching him out of the corner of his eye. . . . Then he made a face, passed discreetly near me, and whispered in my ear about Renoir: ‘He has no talent, that boy! Since you are his friend, tell him to give up painting!'”
Oh thank goodness artists never listen.
Now look at this one:
Isn’t it the most sensual take on an ordinary slab of butter.
You know what’s so magical about seeing the paintings up close and personal? I can study the brush strokes. Almost touch the master’s hand. Those thick impasto strokes. Like glooped on butter on the wooden knife.
And then look at the beautiful wispy brush strokes which describe the cheesecloth and the egg shell.
And these ordinary prune plums and nasturtiums. This is Red plums by Pierre Bonnard
Everyday ordinary plums and garden nasturtiums. It’s that common magic I love so much.
And Paul Cezanne. Unmistakable, isn’t it? Even if you were across the street looking at this you would know it’s a
Cezanne, wouldn’t you?
Those blue shadows of the tipped bowl, the angles of the milk jug. Cezanne said, “There is neither line nor modeling, there is only contrast.”
And now we come to my favourite painting in this collection, (although how can one possibly chose), but this one I wanted to step into the minute I saw it. I want to sit in that eternally spring garden, under those apple blossoms, at that green table, with that book. The Green Table by Pierre Bonnard.
I walked out of the Impressionist’s exhibition into the American painter’s collection, and the intimate feeling continues.
This ethereal, so completely, unbelievably, beautiful portrait, is The End of the Day by William Sergeant Kendall.
This is the artist’s wife Margaret and their first child Elisabeth.
Look at the gentle light on Margaret’s neck, the blue bow and chubby knees of the small child.
And now we go back in time. This is a small area of a much larger painting: A Shepherdess Adorned with Flowers by Gerrit van Honthorst 1627
You know, I’m glad that the Dutch seemed to have escaped the worst of the Protestant Reformation movement of that era and could still paint decadent beauties like this.
And even further back in time, we have Portrait of a Young Woman 1565 attributed to Santi di Tito.
She’s the most beautiful mystery. She wears the dress of an unmarried woman, yet her emerald ring suggests marriage. No one knows who she was, even if her initials may have been C. A. C. I could spend the day looking at this painting, trying to figure out how the master described the gold threads, the lustre of the pearls, the highlights in her hair.
Now it’s time to end the visit, but I could have stayed here for hours and hours. This last sculpture also took my breath away. I love all Art Deco, Art Neuvo, and especially cast bronzes, so love this sculpture called Greyhounds Playing by William Hunt Diederich 1916.
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming with me to the SAM.
How lucky are we to have cities in this world with such beautiful and valuable art museums. 😀