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Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism through the French Lens
September 8, 2018 through January 20, 2019


This extraordinary exhibition, drawn mostly from the collection of the Reading Public Museum, explores the path to Impressionism through the nineteenth century in France. The show examines the sometimes complex relationship between French Impressionism of the 1870s and 80s and the American interpretation of the style in the decades that followed. The exhibition will be on view in The Museum’s Second Floor European and American Galleries from Saturday, September 8, 2018 through Sunday, January, 20, 2019.

More than sixty-five paintings and works on paper help tell the story of the “new style” of painting which developed at the end of the nineteenth century—one that emphasized light and atmospheric conditions, rapid or loose brushstrokes, and a focus on brightly colored scenes from everyday life, including both urban and rural settings when artists preferred to paint outdoors and capture changing effects of light during different times of day and seasons of the year.

Across the Atlantic will also feature works by artists whose paintings helped pave the pathway to Impressionism such as members of the Barbizon School including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Narcisse Diaz de la Peña. Other French painters whose techniques and subjects paralleled those of the Impressionists like Charles-François Daubigny, Leon-Augustin Lhermitte, and Jean-Charles Cazin will also be examined. Many of these artists practiced painting outdoors, en plein air, a new freedom that the commercial availability of tubed paint and portable easels afforded them.

Some of the key artists featured in the exhibition in Reading include Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Victor Vignon, Albert Lebourg, among others, who exhibited in the official Impressionist exhibitions in Paris in the 1870s and 80s. Although familiar and beloved by modern audiences, in their own time, the Impressionists were thought of as a rather radical alternative to the traditions of academic painting. The progressive group of artists avoided the official, state-funded Salon in Paris and instead decided to exhibit their works in unconventional displays.

Among the earliest American artists to embrace the style were John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, Childe Hassam, and Frank W. Benson, among others, whose works are included in the current exhibition. American collectors and taste-makers were among the first to begin collecting Impressionists paintings. By the 19-teens, the Reading Public Museum was collecting works by American Impressionists, a genre that would later become one of its greatest strengths.

A host of American artists, many of whom traveled to France around the turn of the century to continue their studies in fine art, embraced the style including: Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, Robert Spencer, Arthur Watson Sparks, Robert Lewis Reid, William Paxton, Chauncey Ryder, Frederick John Mulhaupt, and Guy Wiggins, are highlighted.

After its debut in Reading, Across the Atlantic will travel on a national tour to venues throughout the United States including: the Louisiana State University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; The Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida; the Appleton Museum of Art at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida; the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The touring sponsor for the exhibition is Pook & Pook, Inc. The exhibition is sponsored locally by the Marlin and Ginger Miller Exhibition Endowment. Generous educational programming support for Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism through the French Lens is provided by Art Bridges. Please check The Museum’s website for additional information and programing.



The Reading Public Museum is supported in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and is located at 500 Museum Road, Reading, Pa. The Museum is open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For admission or member information, or directions, visit www.readingpublicmuseum.org.


September 8, 2018


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