Monday, February 4, 2019

The Telfair Museums French Impressionism Exhibition

We visited the Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia on Sunday. 

While the Telfair does not have a massive collection, we were very impressed with the high quality of the selection. These are top tier paintings by very well known painters, making this group of museums well worth a visit. 

All photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

“Ramón Subercaseaux in a Gondola” by John Singer Sargent.

For me, this piece was the highlight of the “Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism” exhibition currently at the Telfair's Jepson Center for the Arts.

At first glance I mistook the painting as somewhat dashed off and satirical, but the more one looks, the more you can see that Sargent truly captured a fleeting moment perfectly. The warm shadows within the shaded gondola are dramatically contrasted by the cool light of the midday sun on the water, canal structures and the secondary gondola in the background.

There is such a sense of movement to the painting, not only from the varying thick and thin passages of paint, but the way Ramón’s hand appears to be a blur as he rapidly sketches an image of Sargent in return, all the while fixing his gaze directly at Sargent, and us, the viewers, as well. 


Detail of “Ramón Subercaseaux in a Gondola” by John Singer Sargent.
 In this detail photo, you can see that the other gondola and gondolier are just dashes of paint.

Detail of “Ramón Subercaseaux in a Gondola” by John Singer Sargent.

Some of the reflections in the water are beautiful thick dabs of paint.

Detail of “Ramón Subercaseaux in a Gondola” by John Singer Sargent.

Ramón's shoe is only hinted at, and yet the bits of reflection as well as the dashed off pattern of the carpet in the gondola suggest the luxury that Sargent was accustomed to.


Detail of “Ramón Subercaseaux in a Gondola” by John Singer Sargent.

Ramón's hand is painted with a sense of movement to suggest the speed with which he was sketching Sargent in return.

Another painting from the “Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism” exhibition.

 "Dancer Seated on a Pink Divan" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

The piece has a similarity to Edgar Degas, who was one of Toulouse-Lautrec's influences. Just look at that frame.
 


 Frame detail, "Dancer Seated on a Pink Divan" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

"Center Bridge in Winter" by Edward Redfield, at the Telfair Academy. The texture of the paint on this piece is an absolute knockout. 

"Center Bridge in Winter" by Edward Redfield.

The paint texture on the buildings never overwhelms the overall image portrayed in the painting.

Detail of "Center Bridge in Winter" by Edward Redfield. 

The paint takes on a life of its own and areas of it suggest a far more modern work of art.

Detail of "Center Bridge in Winter" by Edward Redfield.

Beautiful, juicy, thick strokes of paint.

One last detail of "Center Bridge in Winter" by Edward Redfield.

"Bend of the Road" by Chauncey Foster Ryder.

The subtle color changes in the sky balance perfectly with the more textured and varied values in the road, trees, grass and figures.

“Lingering Snows” by Willard Leroy Metcalf, 1924.

Willard Metcalf has long been my favorite landscape painter. His color subtleties are bar none.

Just look at the way the background hill moves between light and shadow, warm and cool. Broken bits of color within color keep this transition from being too jarring and hard edged, retaining the form of the hill even with this delineation. 


“Brooklyn Bridge in Winter” by Childe Hassam, 1904.
This may be one of my favorite Hassam paintings that I have ever viewed.

The handling of the values between the first and second towers of the Brooklyn Bridge gives a deep atmospheric quality to the image, as the cold morning fog obscures not only the second tower, but the city beyond. You can feel the cold in this one.


“Vespers” by Gari Melchers.
 
I’ve always been a fan of Gari Melchers, but I’ve rarely seen his work in person.

It was great to see three of his paintings hanging together in the Telfair Academy. Of the three, this was definitely my favorite. It was hung well above our heads, but the design, drawing and storytelling still caught our eyes.



“The Hammock” by Frederick Carl Frieseke, 1915.

I must admit that I am not a fan of Frieseke’s work, but this particular painting goes a long way toward changing my opinion.

The further I stepped back from the painting the more I was taken by the pattern of dappled light cascading across the main figure. Beautifully executed with a subtle value and temperature change.



"Edith Cooper Bryce" by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

I have had the pleasure of viewing a number of Dewing’s paintings firsthand, but I have never seen one quite so large.

The face of the model does not strike me the way his work normally does, but the feathered fan is as beautifully and subtly rendered as any of his paintings I have previously viewed.



A detail of the feathered fan from "Edith Cooper Bryce" by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

Check out the way the light barely catches the tips of the feather on the left.

"The Black Prince at Crécy" by Julian Russell Story.  

This painting by Story must be viewed in person to be appreciated. Its dramatic size dominates the room - it’s over 10 feet tall. It’s a beautiful exercise in storytelling.
 

"Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Another painting that must be viewed in person to be truly appreciated. There is so much movement throughout the composition, and while I get a strong sense of the chaos of the battle depicted, the artist manages to direct the viewer through the story of the painting. I spent a long time moving from figure to figure, never feeling overwhelmed by any of them and never losing sight of the larger battle. While every aspect is perfectly rendered, nothing is overpainted. 

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.
As you get closer, you can see how loose and textural the quality of the paint is.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.
What amazing expressions on the faces of the horses!
 

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

The carefully depicted exhaustion and terror on the faces of the horses.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.
Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Secondary figures are also accurately painted, but with ever simpler strokes.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Another secondary figure and horse. Beautiful, yet simple. 


Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

Detail of "Ein Gefecht" by Józef Brandt.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Plein Air Streaming, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

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