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Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism is on view now!

SAVANNAH, GA (July 27, 2018) This fall, visitors to Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center in historic Savannah have the rare opportunity to experience stunning works by some of the world’s best-known artists. Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism from the Dixon Gallery and Gardens marks the first time some of these artists’ works have been shown in the region.

Monet to Matisse features 30 paintings from the renowned collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee. The exhibition includes landscapes, portraits, interiors, and still lifes by leaders of French Impressionism, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley, as well as works by noted Americans Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. Major paintings by Post-Impressionist artists Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, and Georges Braque complete the exhibition.

“Telfair Museums is thrilled to bring this important exhibition to Savannah, providing both local residents and tourists the opportunity to see incredibly beautiful works by some of the world’s greatest Impressionist artists,” said Courtney McNeil, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs.

The enduring legacy of Impressionism is its radical break from accepted traditions of what and how to paint. Stimulated by the Impressionists’ use of broad brushstrokes and pure color, an early 20th-century group of artists departed conspicuously from naturalism and chartered a path to cubism and abstraction.

In 1874, a group of young painters—including Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir—organized an exhibition independent of the official French Salon, considered the authority in the realist styles of French painting that characterized the country’s accepted painting styles of the period. These “modern artists” rebelliously painted the real world as they experienced it, one with people enjoying a drink at a café, modern train stations, dancers, or an empty field of poppies. Rather than creating painstakingly detailed paintings of historical subjects, they explored the way the human eye experiences color. They saw and captured the purple and blue of shadows and the vibrating colors of the sky. Critics in the 19th century saw them as radicals, and the word “Impressionist” was originally coined by those critics as an insult, implying that their paintings appeared to capture just a mere “impression” of the subject, rather than the thing itself.

“The Dixon Gallery and Gardens’ collection of French Impressionist paintings are stunning, but they are also works of considerable historical significance. Some of these canvases were first seen in the original Impressionist shows of the 1870s and 1880s in Paris,” McNeil said.

Monet to Matisse will be on view at the Jepson Center from September 28 through February 10, 2019.

The exhibition is organized by the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee, and is curated by Julie Pierotti. This presentation at Telfair Museums is curated by Courtney McNeil, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs.

Investment from the City of Savannah.

Images available upon request.