Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns in L.A.

Masterpieces from one of the world’s finest collections of French art is on view through October 13 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition, Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow, encompasses 76 works surveying 250 years of French painting, and includes many works never seen in Los Angeles. Featured artists include Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Jacques-Louis David, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso, among others. “Such an extraordinary array of artists and masterworks comes to Los Angeles once in a generation, and perhaps once in a lifetime,” said LACMA President and Director Andrea L. Rich. “By seeing all these works together in the same place at the same time, we can experience the evolution of history and culture, and discover something profound about the process of artistic creation. This is a must-see exhibition for anyone who is passionate about great paintings.”

Irina Antonova, director of the Pushkin, emphasized the importance of presenting these works to audiences in the United States. “It is gratifying that now, in our second century as a museum dedicated to bringing world art treasures to the public, we are permitting the great paintings of the Pushkin to be seen by so many people in America,” she said.

Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns and its national tour are sponsored by Altria Group, Inc. Lisa Walker, director, contributions at Altria, echoed Madame Antonova’s sentiment: “At Altria, we believe the arts and cultural institutions not only provide unique opportunities to build bridges between countries and cultures but also enrich communities. We are thrilled to be a part of this important international exchange.”

LACMA is the only West Coast venue for Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow, which was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The exhibition opens with Old Master paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Included in this gallery are Nicolas Poussin’s Rinaldo and Armida (c. 1630) and Claude Lorrain’s The Abduction of Europa (1655). Poussin’s work exemplifies the skillful rendering, balanced composition, and elevated subject matter that made him an undisputed master of classical painting. Claude’s painting is a mythological landscape imbued with the serene light for which he is famous. 18th century works in the exhibition-among them defining works by Francois Boucher and Charles-Joseph Natoire-chart the rise of the French Rococo style. By the late 18th century, Jacques-Louis David reigned as leader of the Neoclassical style. The exhibition presents Andromache Mourning Hector (1783), a painting that typifies David’s classical approach to both subject matter and composition. One of David’s greatest students, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, is represented by an exceptional work painted for the future czar of Russia, Alexander II. In Virgin with Chalice (1841), Ingres places Mary between saints Nikolai and Alexander Nevsky, the patron saints of Czar Nicholas I and the crown prince. The exhibition then presents 19th-century landscape paintings with several works by the great master of the subject, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, including his superb Morning in Venice (c. 1834). Corot’s canvases will hang alongside richly painted landscapes by Gustave Courbet and Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Pena.

The State Pushkin Museum is especially strong in French painting of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibition presents exceptional works by the Impressionists, including several paintings by Monet, beginning with Boulevard des Capucines (1873) and paintings from his mature period, none of which have previously been seen in the United States. Among the other classic Impressionist masterpieces are Renoir’s In the Garden (1876), Degas’s Dancer Posing for a Photographer (1875), and Pissarro’s L’Avenue de l’Opera, Snow, Morning (1898). The exhibition will also present works by Charles Francois Daubigny, Edouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns highlights the State Pushkin Museum’s unique collection of Post-Impressionist masterpieces with such works as van Gogh’s rarely seen The Prison Courtyard (1890) and three canvases from Gauguin’s Tahiti period. Several paintings by Cezanne are presented in the same gallery, including Pierrot and Harlequin (1888), his unique figurative masterpiece that has been shown just once outside of the Pushkin and is now on view for the first time in the United States.

The 20th century is represented by works from two outstanding collections formed before the Russian Revolution by Moscow merchants Ivan Morozov and Sergei Shchukin. Among the paintings in Morozov’s collection are Pierre Bonnard’s Summer in Normandy (1912) and Henri-Charles Manguin’s Fauve masterpiece Bathing Woman (1906). From the Shchukin collection are several canvases by Picasso, including Harlequin and His Companion (The Saltimbanques) (1901), the rose period canvas Spanish Woman from Mallorca (1905), and the cubist work The Violin (1912).

Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns concludes with several brilliantly colored paintings by Matisse, including Goldfish (1912) and Nasturtiums and The Dance (1912), and Henri Rousseau’s Jaguar Attacking a Horse (1910).

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