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American Impressions, 1865-1935: Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Collection

June 8 - September 5, 2004


More than 50 works on paper by some of the best-known and most highly regarded late 19th-century American artists will be displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning on June 8, in American Impressions, 1865-1935: Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Collection. Among the artists featured will be such luminaries as Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and Maurice Prendergast. The exhibition was organized to complement and coincide with the Museum's retrospective Childe Hassam, American Impressionist, opening to the public on June 10, and will situate Hassam within a broader context of artists of the same period who treated the same images and used the same media.

The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Metropolitan Museum's collections. Because works on paper are sensitive to light and can be shown only for short periods of time, the exhibition will offer the public a rare opportunity to view seldom-seen examples in many media. The exhibition will also provide an occasion to view important recent acquisitions, such as Whistler's Variations in Violet and Grey - Market Place, Dieppe, 1885.

American Impressions, 1865-1935 is arranged thematically into three sections: the country, the city and built environment, and women in domestic settings. Watercolors, pastels and other drawings, and prints in a variety of media are within each section.

Along with the increasing sophistication of American artists in the late 19th century came an interest in using media that had either been forgotten or ignored. While experimenting in such "old" media as etching and pastel, the artists also helped professionalize watercolor, a medium theretofore associated principally with amateurs. Among other revelations in the exhibition will be the level of experimentation engaged in by American artists in this period, and the suitability of the media to their subjects and technical interests. Etching, for example, provided graphic freedom, pastels were portable, and watercolors -- also portable -- were perfect for expressing the new interest in effects of sunlight.

All of the artists represented in the exhibition were associated with and, in some cases, were close friends of Childe Hassam. Several of them were members of Ten American Painters, the exhibiting organization that Hassam helped to found in 1897. And others -- most notably Homer, Whistler, and Cassatt -- represented the earlier generation of artists that influenced Hassam.

The exhibition is organized by Megan Holloway and Elizabeth Block, Research Assistants, American Paintings and Sculpture, and Elizabeth E. Barker, Assistant Curator, Drawings and Prints, in consultation with H. Barbara Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Curator, American Paintings and Sculpture, all of the Metropolitan Museum.


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