Day at the Museum
Yesterday we headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Renoir Landscapes, a show of the Impressionist master's scenes of nature.
Yesterday I fell in love again. The exhibit reminded me that the Impressionists created the modern idea of nature. Their artwork continues to inform our beliefs about and approach to the natural environment, even if most of us don’t realize it.
The exhibit began with photographs of Paris and its environs in the mid-1850’s. Just as we are today, people 150 years ago were obsessed with the latest technology, and at that time it was the railroads. Trains made Impressionism possible, the curator of the exhibit said on a recorded message, because it made remote locations accessible to urbanites. For the first time Parisians saw the countryside, and they brought their ideas back to the city. City dwellers began planting gardens, and planners established public parks for the first time.
Dad most enjoyed watching Renoir grow and change through the years. Renoir hit his artistic prime in his mid-30s to early-40s, although he continued to paint until he died. He completed the last painting in the exhibit only a few years before he died. His family taped brushes to his hands so he could continue to paint despite debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.
Among my favorite paintings in the show were The Wave (top) and Claude Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil (right, c. 1873). Renoir also painted when he traveled: he visited Venice, Naples and the French colony of Algeria. The Jardin d’Essai, Algiers (1881) reminded me of Costa Rica.