Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny – American Impressionism Exhibition

Visited this ‘museum’ in Giverny last weekend. As it’s name, the museum focuses on all different forms of Impressionism, its origins, geographical diversity, history and development in other streams. Currently there is an exhibition of American Impressionism ( A New Vision) at this museum. There was a lively colony of American artists who travelled to France at the end of the 19th century to take in latest developments in art, especially impressionism. 80 original paintings are exhibited by American impressionists such as Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, James Mc Neill Whistler, Theodore Robinson. Artists like Childe Hassam, Chase and Tarbell inspired by the new way of rendering light effects took the impressionist technics back home to feature seascapes, countryside , depicting picnics, walks, etc., in bright colours, giving the illusion of an ideal world.
I had never heard of Childe Hassam before. His painting, Poppies, Isle of Shoal, caught my eye because of the lively brush strokes, including short diagonal strokes in the sky giving it movement and the way he painted the poppies in vibrant colour. I liked several other of his paintings.


There was a line of 12 small paintings of haystacks called Studies of an Autumn Day, 1891 by John Leslie Breck. Each has a totally different sky, direction of shadows, some without a cast shadow. I could feel the intensity of the sunlight in some. Green and blue marks on some of the hay stacks made them lively. It was a very intriguing exercise just sitting in front of them, jumping from one to the other and looking at the differences. what made one dull and the other more alive.

Next to these studies, there is a huge painting by Claude Monet, “Haystacks, Snow Effect” 1891. it has bits of snow thawing. bright orange markings next to blue on the left of a haystack in the foreground, enrich the solid forms and cast shadows and makes it atmospheric. Its given me ideas on how to use complementary colours.
Haystacks, snow effect
After driving through the countryside and seeing the sun on the wheat fields, Monet’s painting with a network of brightly coloured brushstrokes ‘Prairie a Giverny’ felt I could stroke the grass.
Prairie a Giverny

I also saw some paintings by Blanche Hochede-Monet. I didn’t know she painted and learnt from our guide, that though Monet did not teach her, he used to criticise her a lot! She used to paint with Monet, mostly of the garden. I found her paintings subdued and less vivid.

We dropped by Hotel Gaudy where artists used to stay on their visit to MoneT. They have left a studio there with easels and paints of tubes dating back nearly a century ago as if the artists have just popped out for a bit.

A quote I like by Will Low “Giverny, a greatest charm lies in the atmospheric conditions over the lowlands, where the moisture from the rivers imprisoned through the night by the valleys bordering hills dissolve before the sun and bathe the landscape in an iridescent flood of vaporous hues”


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