Exhibitions: In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painting

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    In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painting

    • Dates: October 11, 1996 through January 12, 1997
    • Collections: European Art
    Press Releases ?
    • June 1996: In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painting, the first major exhibition to explore an important moment in the origin of modern landscape painting, will be presented at The Brooklyn Museum from October 11, 1996 through January 12, 1997. The exhibition comprises 130 paintings by 48 artists from a number of European countries, who worked in the Italian landscape between 1780 and 1840, establishing the first tradition of open-air painting. Featured in the exhibition are 19 works completed during the late 1820s by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) during his first visit to Italy. Also included are works by Carl Blechen (1798-1840), Johan Christian DahI (1788-1857), François-Marius Granet (1775-1849), Thomas Jones (1742-1803), and Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819), among others.

      The artists worked in Rome, Naples, and the regions around those cities, recording their perceptions of particular sites. Their paintings foreshadow the [I]mpressionist awareness of light and atmosphere and the compositional innovations of photography. These small paintings represent direct experience in a way that enables the viewer to respond to them in modern terms, despite the fact that they were conceived as part of the artists’ preparation for a career in the prevailing academic mode, and were known only to a few friends and fellow artists.

      The works are, in part, responses to the profoundly new respect for both scientific observation and individual perception that marked the Enlightenment in western Europe. “The idea of landscape painting for its own sake, as a means of and metaphor for understanding man’s relation to the earth, was being born in this process,” writes Sarah Faunce, Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, The Brooklyn Museum, in the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.

      The exhibition has been organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and The Brooklyn Museum, in association with the St. Louis Art Museum. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Faunce; Philip Conisbee, Curator of French Paintings, National Gallery of Art; and Jeremy Strick, Curator of Modern Art, St. Louis Art Museum; with guest curator, Peter Galassi, Curator of the Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition is made possible by a grant from The Florence Gould Foundation. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The presentation at The Brooklyn Museum is made possible, in part, by generous grants from The Florence Gould Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

      Since the Renaissance, artists from north of the Alps had been drawn to Rome to study the ruins of that city’s golden age that served as models for their own art. By the late 18th century, an increasing number of painters traveling to Italy, moved by the emergence of a new kind of attention to Nature in the early Romantic period, had a primary interest in landscape. By the 1820s, there was in Rome a substantial community of landscape painters from France, the German states, Holland and Belgium, the Scandinavian countries, and elsewhere in Europe.

      Corot arrived in Rome in 1826, when the open-air tradition was at its peak, and learned from the vibrant community of artists there. That Corot is the most widely known and respected open-air painter of the early 19th century is partly the result of his determination to maintain that tradition when he returned to France, where his work as a landscape painter remained solidly based on the practice of outdoor painting.

      Among the works by Corot featured in the exhibition is The Roman Campagna with the Claudian Aqueduct, an oil sketch that once belonged to Degas. Jeremy Strick writes in his catalogue essay, “It is from [Corot's Italian studies] that his relevance to the course of modern art has most frequently been asserted. By their openness to light and direct approach to nature, the oil studies were seen to anticipate Impressionism. By their solidity of form and classical structure, they look forward to Cézanne and [C]ubism. If today we understand Corot's Italian oil studies not as precocious anachronisms, but rather as heirs to, even the summation of, the tradition begun by Valenciennes, that only serves to heighten our appreciation for the artist's achievement."

      Artists Included in the Exhibition

      Théodore Caruelle d’Aligny
      French, 1798-1871

      Édouard Bertin
      French, 1797-1871

      Jean-Joseph-Xavier Bidauld
      French, 1758-1846

      Carl Blechen
      German, 1798-1840

      Antoine-Félix Boisselier
      French, 1790-1857

      Jacques-Raymond Brascassat
      French, 1804-1867

      Franz Ludwig Catel
      German, 1778-1856

      Gilles-François Closson
      Belgian, 1791-1842

      Léon Cogniet
      French, 1794-1880

      Jean-Antoine Constantin
      French, 1756-1844

      Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
      French, 1796-1875

      Johan Christian DahI
      Norwegian, 1788-1857

      Charles-François Daubigny
      French, 1817-1878

      Simon Denis
      Belgian, 1755-1812

      Johann Georg von Dillis
      German, 1759-1841

      Alexandre-Hyacinthe Dunouy
      French, 1757-1841

      Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
      Danish, 1783-1853

      Johann Joachim Faber
      German, 1778-1846

      Thomas Fearnley
      Norwegian, 1802-1842

      Ernst Fries
      German, 1801-1833

      Louis Gauffier
      French, 1762-1801

      André Giroux
      French, 1801-1879

      François-Marius Granet
      French, 1775-1849

      Constantin Hansen
      Danish, 1804-1880

      Adolf von Heydeck
      German, 1787-1856

      Thomas Jones
      British, 1742-1803

      Johann Baptist Kirner
      German, 1806-1866

      Joseph August Knip
      Dutch, 1777-1847

      Christen Købke
      Danish, 1810-1848

      Georg Friedrich August Lucas
      German, 1803-1863

      Achille-Etna Michallon
      French, 1796-1822

      Friedrich Nerly
      German, 1807-1878

      François-Édouard Picot
      French, 1786-1868

      Heinrich Carl Reinhold
      German, 1788-1824

      Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémold
      French, 1795-1875

      Léopold Robert
      Swiss, 1794-1835

      Jørgen Roed
      Danish, 1808-1888

      Johann Martin von Rohden
      German, 1778-1868

      Jacques Sablet
      Swiss, 1749-1803

      Louise-Joséphine Sarazin de Belmont
      French, 1790-1870

      Johann Wilhelm Schirmer
      German, 1807-1863

      Gustaf Söderberg
      Swedish, 1799-1875

      Joseph Mallord William Turner
      British, 1775-1851

      Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes
      French, 1750-1819

      Claude-Joseph Vernet
      French, 1774-1789

      Carl Wagner
      German, 1796-1867

      Friedrich Wasmann
      German, 1805-1886

      Richard Wilson
      British, 1713-1782

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1996, 078-81. View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3 . View Original 4

    Press Coverage of this Exhibition ?

    • ARTSeptember 8, 1996 By ROBERTA SMITHRoberta Smith selective guide to noteworthy art events coming this year; photos (L)
    • Little Paintings With Big VisionsOctober 11, 1996 By MICHAEL KIMMELMANMichael Kimmelman reviews Brooklyn Museum exhibit In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painting; photos (M)
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