THE OPEN-AIR STUDIO – The Impressionists in Normandy


The Impressionists in Normandy
Until 25 July 2016
The Open-air studio

Claude Monet Etretat, la porte d’Aval, bateaux de pêche sortant du port, around 1885 60 x 80 cm, oil on canvas Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts © Musée des beaux-arts de Dijon Photo François Jay


This year, the Musée Jacquemart-André is proud to present an ensemble of some fifty or so prestigious artworks—from both private collections and major American and European museums—that retrace the history of Impressionism, from the forefathers of the movement to the Great Masters.
The Open-air studio

William Turner (1775-1851) Lillebonne , 1823 Watercolour, gouache, brown and black ink 13,4 x 18,5 cm Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum. Presented by John Ruskin, 1861 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The 19th century saw the emergence of a new pictorial genre: ‘plein air’ or outdoor landscape painting made possibly by the revolutionary portable paint in a tube. This pictorial revolution, born in England, would spread to the continent in the 1820s and over the course of a century, Normandy would become the preferred destination of many avant-garde painters.

The region’s stunning and diverse landscapes, coupled with the wealth of its architectural heritage, had much to please artists. Furthermore, the growing fashion for sea-bathing attracted many wealthy individuals and families who could easily access Normandy by either boat or stage-coach, and later by train. Its popularity was also increased due to its enviable location—halfway between London and Paris, the two art capitals of the period.

Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, British landscape artists such as Turner, Bonington, and Cotman travelled to Normandy, with their boxes of watercolours, while the French—Géricault, Delacroix, Isabey—made their way to London to discover the English school.

From these exchanges, a French landscape school was born, with Corot and Huet at the helm. In their wake, another generation of painters would in turn explore the region (Delacroix, Riesener, Daubigny, Millet, Jongkind, Isabey, Troyon), inventing a new aesthetic.

This artistic revolution truly began to take form at the beginning of the 1860s, the fruit of lively discussions and exchanges at the Saint-Siméon Farm in Honfleur on Normandy’s Flower Coast, increasingly popular with the crème de la crème of this new school of painting. These included Boudin, Monet and Jongkind—an inseparable trio—but also their friends: Courbet, Daubigny, Bazille, Whistler, and Cals… And of course, Baudelaire, who was the first to celebrate in 1859, the ‘meteorological beauties’ of Boudin’s paintings.

Not far away, in the hedgerows and woodlands of the Normandy countryside, on a rare trip outside the city Degas painted his first horse races at Haras-du-Pin and Berthe Morisot took up landscape painting, while at Cherbourg, Manet would revolutionize seascapes.

The Open-air studio

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) L’Embouchure de la Seine also known as Vue prise des hauteurs de Honfleur , 1859 43,5 x 65 cm, oil on canvas Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts © RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Quecq d’Henripret

For several decades, Normandy would be the preferred outdoor or ‘plein-air’ studio of the Impressionists. Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Boudin, Morisot, Caillebotte, Gonzales, and Gauguin would all experiment with their art here in a constant quest for originality and innovation.

From a historical to a geographic approach, the exhibition then shows how the Normandy landscape, especially the quality of its light, were critical in the attraction that the region had on the Great Impressionist Masters.

Practical Information :
Musée Jacquemart André
158 bd. Haussmann – 75008 Paris
Open everyday from 10 am to 6 pm
Late night opening on Mondays
until 8.30 pm during exhibitions
Price : Full rate : € 12 I Reduced rate : € 10