Last Friday, the day before the exhibit, Discovering the Impressionists, was to close, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It had taken me about two months to work up the courage, or what ever one wants to call it, to take two buses by myself to reach this special showing of several of my favorite painters. The effort was worth the worrying indecision.
The exhibit featured the works of the impressionist Monet, Renoir, Degas and Pissarro, all featured in the gallery of Paul Durand-Ruel who was the first gallery owner to recognize the new style used by these painters. It was through the efforts of Durand-Ruel that these artists moved from obscurity to international fame. Many of the works of the above artists were gathered together for this exhibit to tell the story of how and where Durand-Ruel featured and, ultimately, found buyers for these works. The story describes a man of self-determination, persistence and inspiration. Be that as it may, as much as I like to learn history, when I visit a special exhibition, I come away with little personal experiences of pure joy.
This exhibition left me with two delightful memories. One was the realization that Pissarro used architecture, perspective and light to create the most enchanting compositions. A Paris street scene made me smile. However, a work of Pissarro that I had never seen before kept me rooted to the spot. It was a night scene with moon-light spilling over a flock of sheep! How did he do that!
The other personal show stealer was a series of poplars painted by Monet. As described in the notes, the trees grew near the house where Monet lived. He painted them over and over again. In fact, Durand-Ruel ran an exhibition of fifteen of these works in which everyone sold. This Philadelphia exhibition had at least ten of them gathered from all over the globe. Using color and a shifting light source, every work, although the same composition, was entirely different. What an observer!