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Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery presents AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISTS, a remarkable salon of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Tonalist paintings by some of the giants of the American School.

Around the late 1880s, the rapid brushwork and bold colors found in European salons began appearing in American museums and galleries. Artists like Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, John Henry Twachtman, and Louis Ritman traveled abroad to learn the grand tradition of painting only to discover that the rules of classical, Academic painting had been broken. These artists and the others in this exhibition began painting in the modern manner, making way for the world’s favorite style of painting, Impressionism and its offshoots Tonalism and Post Impressionism. Studying under the likes of Claude Monet and James McNeill Whistler, these American artists defined what we have come to know and love about this era of American art--soft, affecting light conveyed by small daubs of paint that coalesce into a gorgeous image full of light and air.


While in Europe, many of these artists lived communally in Giverny, France. Alongside Monet, they worked en plein air to capture the immediate effects of light in nature. It is remembered that Monet told Lilla Cabot Perry that her “first impression should go onto the canvas, as it is the truest and most pure expression.” Upon the American artists’ repatriation, they brought with them works by their European teachers and paved the way for these avant-garde styles in the domestic art market. Due to the blatant rejection of Realism’s classical rules, the modernism of these works was unsuccessful, but shortly, wealthy art patrons began to see the light.

Like their European counterparts, the American painters chose pastoral or genre subjects: people picnicking in the park, a woman bathing by the water’s edge, blossoming boughs in an old orchard. Of course, the real subject in all of these works is light and its power to move us. John Leslie Breck’s impression of a wave crashing upon a craggy rock and Colin Campbell Cooper’s shady depiction of the Gate of the Maharaja’s Palace exemplify Monet’s instructions to Perry -- to preserve in paint the most fleeting sensations and effects and thereby to find truth.


1:51 | Susan Bush

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