Claude Monet (1840-1926), The Magpie, Between 1868 and 1869, Oil on canvas, H. 89; W. 130 cm, © photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski.

de Young Brings Musée d'Orsay Impressionist Masterpieces to U.S.

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 57.48 x 40.16", Musée D'Orsay, Paris, France.

Claude Monet (1840-1926), La Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877, Huile sur toile, H. 75 ; L. 104 cm, © RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Le Defile, Racehorses Before the Stands, c. 1866-68, Essence on paper mounted on canvas, 46 x 61 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

Paul Cézanne, Le golfe de Marseille vu de L'Estaque, entre 1878 et 1879, huile sur toile, H. 0.58 ; L. 0.72, musée d'Orsay, Paris, France, © photo musée d'Orsay / rmn.

Camille Pissarro, Red Roofs, Corner of the Village, Winter Effect, 1877, Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 65.6 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1, Portrait of the Artist's Mother. 1871. Oil on canvas. Musˇe d'Orsay, Paris, France.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917), The Dance Class, 1875, Oil on canvas, 85 x 75 cm, Musée d'Orsay.

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), The Cradle, 1872, Oil on canvas, H. 56; W. 46 cm, © photo RMN.


de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara
Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco
Birth of Impressionism:
Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

May 22-September 6, 2010

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco welcomes the United States debut of Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. The exhibition includes approximately 100 paintings from the Musée d’Orsay’s permanent collection and highlights the work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, among others. The Musée d’Orsay is lending their most beloved paintings while it undergoes a partial closure for refurbishment and reinstallation in anticipation of the museum’s 25th anniversary in 2011. Birth of Impressionism will be followed in the fall of 2010 by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Beyond: Post–Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. The de Young is the only museum in the world to host both exhibitions.

The Birth of Impressionism presents works by the famous masters who called France their home during the mid- to late-19th century and from whose midst arose one of the most original and recognizable of all artistic styles, Impressionism. The exhibition begins with paintings by the great academic artist Bouguereau and the arch-Realist Courbet, and includes American expatriate Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black, known to many as Whistler’s Mother. Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley are showcased with works dating from the 1860s through 1880s, along with a selection of Degas’ paintings that depict images of the ballet, the racetrack, and life in the Belle Époque.

“Each of these two shows brings together masterpieces that, once they return to the Musée d’Orsay, will never again be loaned out for exhibition as a group,” says Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic. “I hope they will excite the interest of the American public in order to strengthen further the links between our two countries.”

“These two exhibitions present a rare and unique opportunity for Americans to see the evolution and incubation of the Impressionist style from the collection of the most important repository of French 19th- and early 20th-century art––the Musée d’Orsay,” says John E. Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “These exhibitions give us the chance to share with visitors some of the most seminal works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art that they would only be able to see in Paris or in an art history book.”

“Does Impressionism still have something to teach us about its sources, its beginnings, its transformations, and its links with the period of its first flowering?” Musée d’Orsay curator Stéphane Guégan asks. “This is the challenge taken up by this exhibition which attempts to decompartmentalize the movement by comparing it with art in the 1870s in general.” Notable works in this exhibition include:

During the Musée d’Orsay exhibitions, the Friday Nights at the de Young series celebrates Impressionism and Post-Impressionism with lectures, music, and artist demonstrations. Additionally, a symposium featuring Dr. Richard Brettell, a foremost authority on Impressionism and French painting of the period 1830–1930, is scheduled for opening day, May 22, 2010. A two-volume catalog with a foreward by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, will be available in the Museum Store (softcover $29.95, hardcover $50).

Edgar Degas, Portraits, At the Stock Exchange, 1879, Oil on canvas, 100 x 82 cm, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Snow at Louveciennes, 1878, Oil on canvas, H. 61; W. 50.5 cm, © photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Swing, 1876, Oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905), The Birth of Venus, 1879, 300 x 218 cm, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Claude Monet, Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June 30, 1878, 1878. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

Edouard Manet (1832-1883), The Fife Player, 1866, Oil on canvas, H. 160; W. 97 cm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, bequest of Count Isaac de Camondo, 1911, © photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski.

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), Family Reunion also called Family Portraits, 1867, Oil on canvas, H. 152; W. 230 cm, © photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski.