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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : Harvard Art Museums : Room 2700

Harvard Art Museums – Room 2700

Art From Us, Museum Guide #883

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #883 the spotlight is on the Harvard Art Museums’ Room 2700. Showcasing a collection of Impressionism and the Late Nineteenth Century.

The three works in focus are :

Woman on a Striped Sofa with a Dog, Mary Cassatt, 1876
Nocturne in Grey & Gold : Chelsea Snow, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1876
Study for Seated Figures, for “El Jaleo”, John Singer Sargent, c. 1882

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #883

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“The influence of impressionist artists from France–who valued the practice of painting the modern world, whether that be landscapes or scenes of prosperous urban life as opposed to historical or biblical subjects–spread across Europe and the West in the later part of the 19th century. ”

Impressionism was born out of a protest against the artistic standards set and popularised by the French Academy. The Academy had declared that ‘good art’ was art that drew references from history and mythology, and a ‘good artist’ was one who was true to her subject and its representations.

Impressionism by definition went against both these ideas. The artists, instead of resorting to mythology from inspiration, simply looked at the world around them. Further, their aim was to depict their reality in a personalised way, where the overall impact of a painting took precedence over its individual elements.

While the movement took birth in Paris, the city that also housed the French Academy, its impact spread through Europe, and even across the ocean to America.

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