Course 120: The New Painting:
Before, During and After Impressionism
Mary Cassatt Frederic Church James Whistler
Leader: Marianna M. Archambault
Description: For several centuries, European art followed certain traditions focused on set subjects, and was intended to please a specific patron, usually aristocratic or clerical. At the start of the nineteenth century, political and industrial factors changed the way artists and patrons viewed art: artists had to please a general public and paint smaller pictures; and often subjects like portraits, landscapes and cityscapes were the public's desired subjects. After examining some of these changes which allowed artists to use new techniques and to paint new subjects, we will study several groups of artists in France, America, and other countries, well known for their new method of painting which distinguished them from past movements: the Barbizon school in France (Corot, Millais, Daubigny), and the Hudson River Valley group (Inness, Church, Eastman) who dedicated themselves to portraying meadows, streams, and mountains, workers in the fields, and natural phenomena, such as the Fontainebleau forest, the Seine, the Hudson river, and Niagara Falls. In the 1860s and the decades that followed, several young artists, working alone or at times in pairs, no longer wanted to submit their works to juries and formed a group of "independent artists." These "independent artists" came to be known, after 1874, as the "Impressionists." Their exhibits, eight of them, between 1874 and 1886, brought them great fame, and painters from other countries, including the United States, felt their art training was incomplete without studying the techniques and subject matter of the Impressionists. We shall examine some of the works by the original group (including Sisley, Pissarro, Cassatt, Morisot, Monet, Caillebotte and others), as well as works by some non-French artists drawn to Paris to learn the new art: Zorn from Sweden, Benson, Whistler, Hassan, and Curran from the United States, and Chitussi, Kalvoda, and Slavicek from what is today the Czech Republic.
Biography: Marianna Archambault is a retired professor of modern languages. Trained originally in French literary history and criticism, she went on to specialize in Italian and French art and lectured frequently on favorite paintings to Bucknell University students and groups of travelers abroad.
Materials for Course: No background in art is necessary; short readings will be distributed in class, and others may be suggested.
Number of Participants:Minimum: 8; Maximum: 18
Location: Public Library for Union County - Large Meeting Room
Meeting Time: Thursdays, February 28 through April 4, 1 - 2:30 p.m.