French Impressionism at the NGV

Each year the National Gallery of Victoria showcases a Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition and this year is no exception. French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston presents an arresting display of 100 works by the well known masters of this unique movement. For starters, there are 19 canvasses by Monet, 10 by Renoir, 10 each by Pissaro and Degas, 5 Manets, 3 Cézannes and 4 works by Sisley. Add a post-Impressionist giant or two – Gaugin and van Gogh, plus some fascinating lesser known members and voilà, it’s a blockbuster.

Beginning with an introduction to the Barbizon School and moving on to the influence of Boudin, the exhibition takes us through the breadth of the Impressionist movement.

Eugène Louis Boudin 
French 1824-98
Inlet at Berck (Pas-de-Calais) 1882
Oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bequest of Mrs Stephen S Fitzgerald 1964

Boudin encouraged Monet to paint outdoors to capture the changing atmosphere and light whilst sharing his fascination with water. “I owe everything to Boudin and I attribute my success to him” – Monet.

Claude Monet  French 1840–1926  Camille Monet and a child in the artist's garden in Argenteuil 1875  oil on canvas  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston  Anonymous gift in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin S. Webster

Claude Monet
French 1840-1926
Camille Monet and a child in the artist’s garden in Argenteuil 1875
oil on canvas 
55.3 x 64.7cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
Anonymous gift in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin S. Webster 

The exhibition includes 19 Monet canvasses 16 of which are displayed in an oval space designed to evoke the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris.

And what would an Impressionist exhibition be without at least one of Monet’s waterlily works.

Claude Monet 
French 1840–1926 
Water lilies 1905
oil on canvas 
89.5 x 100.3cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
Gift of Edward Jackson Holmes 

The works by Renoir are stunning and exceptional stand outs. Capturing contemporary life and depiction of fashion at that time, they bring us a vision of modern urban life.

Pierre Auguste Renoir 
French 1841–1919 
Dance at Bougival 1883 
oil on canvas 
181.9 x 98.1 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
Picture Fund 
Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
French 1841-1919
Children on the seashore, Guernsey c1883
oil on canvas
Bequest John T Spaulding 1948

A still life by Cézanne is one of only a few such works in the exhibition. It’s interesting to note that a fifth of Cézanne’s work was dedicated to still life. Colour and form dominate this eye-catching post Impressionist work.

Paul Cézanne
French 1839–1906
Fruit and a jug on a table c. 1890–94 
oil on canvas 
32.4 x 40.6 cm  
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
Bequest of John T. Spaulding 

The genius of van Gogh is on full display with this vibrant work that demonstrates his particular style of strong brush work. It’s full of energy and life.

Vincent van Gogh 
Dutch (worked in France) 1853–90 
Houses at Auvers 1890 
oil on canvas 
75.6 x 61.9 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
Bequest of John T. Spaulding  

This exhibition is a once in a lifetime opportunity to discover and experience an amazing collection of works by the world’s most celebrated masters of the Impressionist period. Not to be missed!

Link to the NGV website here for further details.