Portland Museum of Art

Portland, Maine

(207) 775-6148


Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper


Reginald Marsh, American, 1898-1954

Landscape, 1937, watercolor on paper, 14 1/4" x 20", Bequest of Felicia Meyer Marsh


Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper, on view at the Portland Museum of Art from October 11, 1997 through January 18, 1998, features 26 rarely-seen watercolors, drawings, prints, and photographs from the Museum's permanent and loan collection. The American and European artists represented include: Jean-Francois Millet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, John Singer Sargent, Maurice Prendergast, Elie Nadelman, Marc Chagall, Gino Severini, Henri Matisse, Fernand Leger, Andre Lhote, Man Ray, Albert Renger-Patzsch, George Grosz, Peggy Bacon, Isabel Bishop, Leon Kroll, Marguerite Zorach, Reginald Marsh, and Marsden Hartley.

Taken together, the works in this exhibition provide an excellent overview of modernist art. A drawing and print by Jean-Francois Millet depicting peasant figures reflect a new desire in mid-nineteenth century France for celebrating simple folk, putting them on the same high level that had been reserved for significant historical, mythological, and religious figures. This impulse was taken up, and extended, by the Impressionists as reflected by Degas's Danseuse Assise, an image of a dancer at rest. Toulouse-Lautrec's dynamic lithographic poster Babylone d'Allemagne captures the zeal of cabaret life, one of the new social spots that developed in France. Watercolors by John Singer Sargent and Maurice Prendergast show that Americans were just as adept as Europeans with the Impressionist idiom.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Babylone d 'Allemagne, no date, Portland Museum of Art, Lent by Scott M. Black

Also included in the exhibition is a drawing by Elie Nadelman, which relates to an important series that helped establish the artist's reputation in France. Gino Severini's print The Cyclist reflects the Futurists' obsession with speed, dynamism and movement, which these artists and writers considered to be at the core of modern life. Matisse's lithograph of a ballet dancer is a classic subject of the artist, rendered in a charactertistically elegant and straightforward manner. A gouache by Fernand Leger belongs to the artist's famous Contrast of Forms series, perhaps his most important pre-WWI oeuvre, In addition, a recent gift to the Museum, Andre Lhote's Cubist Landscape with Church with its patchy brushwork of Cezanne's style and shows beautifully how his work influenced the development of Cubism.

Photography is also represented in the exhibition with a striking work by Man Ray of the French actress Jacqueline Goddard, along with a photograph by Albert Renger-Patzsch. This latter photography with its clinical Bauhaus aesthetic, shows 1920s avant-garde German photography at its finest. This work is complemented by a satirical drawing by George Grosz from the same period. Three exquisite works on paper by Marsden Hartley, including one which the entered the Museum's collection directly fiom the artist's estate, complete this exhibition of exceptional but rarely-seen works.

The Portland Museum of Art, located at Seven Congress Square, is easily reached from Exit 6A, I-295 North or South. Follow signs to the Downtown Arts District. The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. July through Columbus Day, the Museum is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $1.00 for youth six to 12. Children under six are free. The Museum is free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday evenings. Tours of the Museum are available daily at 2 p.m. Year-round Museum Cafe and Shop. The Museum welcomes all members of the public. Accessibility to the Museum is barrier-free and tours for people with special needs are available through prior arrangement. Web site= http://www.portlandmuseum.org. For more information, call 1-207-773-ARTS or 1-800-639-4067.

Images and article are courtesy of Portland Museum of Art.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1998 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

Copyright 2012 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.