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"Theme shows, when done as well as this one, often bring forgotten artists out of storage and allow overly familiar ones to have new companions."


About the exhibition



Travel to France through a ground-breaking exhibition offering a fresh perspective on landscape imagery in 19th century France. The exhibition explores for the first time the rich connections between landscape and national identity during a period in which France was fundamentally transformed.

The major exhibition, which includes 120 paintings and photographs from 37 institutions around America and Europe, will be presented as St. Louis celebrates the 250th anniversary of its founding by French settlers. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey to France through seven thematic sections exploring Paris and the modern cityscape; monuments; rivers and forests; rural and agricultural life; mountains; marine views; and railroads and factories.

Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet focuses particularly on the years between 1850 and 1880. During these decades, painters and photographers traveled around France, exploring the exceptionally rich and varied range of history and geography in the nation.
These years saw the Golden Age of early photography, the culminating production of the Barbizon School, and the high point of early Impressionism.

Impressionist France includes important work by photographers such as Gustave Le Gray and Charles Marville, Barbizon School painters including Camille Corot and Théodore Rousseau, and Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Édouard Manet and Berthe Morisot. These artists composed competing visions of France as modern and industrialized or as rural and anti-modern.

The exhibition is curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, and April M. Watson, curator of photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Large font labels for the exhibition are available at the Taylor Hall Information Center upon request


Impressionist France Audio Tour App

Download the free Impressionist France audio tour app via the Apple App store or Google Play before you come, or you can use our free, guest wi-fi.
Left: Adalbert Cuvelier, French, 1812–1871, printed by: Alphonse-Louis Poitevin, French, 1819–1882; Effect of Fog, 1852, printed 1855; photolithograph; 9 9/16 x 12 13/16 inches; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2012.8.3 Photo: Joshua Ferdinand

Right: Edgar Degas, French, 1834–1917; Henri Rouart in front of his Factory, c.1875; oil on canvas; 25 3/4 x 19 7/8 inches; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Acquired through the generosity of the Sarah Mellon Scaife Family, 69.44 Photograph © 2013 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh