Following the tradition of summer blockbusters, Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery will present its fourth major exhibition of American painters from the heyday of the Impressionist movement in the United States, a time period stretching from the 1880s to the 1930s. Today, these artworks are some of the best loved and the most expensive.
It was not always so. When Paul DurandRuel – one of the two great early French champions of Impressionism – brought Monet, Renoir, and others to Boston in 1883 for an exhibition and sale, he was acting out of financial need more than out of an ambition to spread the word. Americans didn’t recoil at the work as the French had, and indeed, DurandRuel would later credit American audiences for buying enough art to sustain both him and his artists. If Americans didn’t invent Impressionism, they surely helped make it famous. By 1886, when he brought over an even larger selection to New York City, Americans were ready to begin a century long project to venerate the existing masters and to create new ones.
Some of those masters will soon be on display at Sullivan Goss. Many of them learned the Impressionist approach directly from the French masters; among these, Willard Metcalf, Lawton Parker, and Louis Ritter studied with Monet, and Colin Campbell Cooper later sought out and befriended the great French painter. There was also an important link to the French style through the Academie Julian which was attended by Cooper, John Gamble, Abbott Fuller Graves, Childe Hassam, Metcalf, and Elizabeth Nourse. Others in the exhibition studied under those who had trained in France, and so of course, a particularly American style of Impressionism emerged – one with many of the hallmarks of the original style, but with a preference for draughtsmanship and “structure.”
This exhibition will feature beautiful and important examples from both New England and California, two regions where Impressionism became incorporated into those regions’ cultural identity. Still life, figures, and landscapes by these artists will fill the first room of the gallery. It is important to note that many of these artists were converts to Impressionism, working at first in Academic and Tonal styles. Some of the works in the exhibition will trace that development, but the heart of the exhibition – as its title suggests – will be Impressionism itself.
Artists included in the exhibition: Lucien Biva, Charles Coleman, Colin Campbell Cooper, Charles Abel Corwin, Leon Dabo, Abbott Fuller Graves, Childe Hassam, Paul Lauritz, Willard Metcalf, Francis Luis Mora, Elizabeth Nourse, George Noyes, Lawton Silas Parker, Louis Ritter, Jack Wilkinson Smith, Wuanita Smith, & Alice Barber Stephens.