The Artist’s Garden
June 16, 2015 — September 6, 2015
American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920
This exhibition of American Impressionist masterworks showcases more than 70 works by renowned painters like Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Theodore Robinson, Gari Melchers, and Cecilia Beaux.
Follow these painters on a colorful journey from their backyards to the great gardens of the world. Expect warm sunlight, rustling branches, and the exquisite colors of flower petals captured in brilliant strokes. There’s even a group of paintings that focus on the beauty of a garden in winter.
Many artists in this period were avid gardeners who adapted their own yards to become subjects for their work. Their models included the great palace gardens of Europe, such as the Villa Corsi-Salviati near Florence, where William Merritt Chase painted An Italian Garden in 1909, a spectacular sun-drenched study of formal walls and terraces (and a Chrysler Collection favorite).
Others preferred the more intimate flower-filled yards of Claude Monet, as seen in John Leslie Breck’s Garden at Giverny (In Monet’s Garden), painted between 1887 and 1891, a scene of tall flowers crowding around a slender dirt path. The exhibition explores these choices: how artists organized their gardens, what they planted, and why certain flowers were favorites.
From the curator
“French Impressionism was a starting point, but these artists developed unique American voices and styles,” said Alex Mann, the Chrysler’s Brock Curator of American Art. “They formed artist colonies in historic towns like Cornish, New Hampshire, and Old Lyme, Connecticut, and they had special admiration for native species like phlox and goldenrod.”
The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920 was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pa., and was curated by PAFA’s Curator of Historical American Art, Anna O. Marley, Ph.D. The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc., and the Richard C. von Hess Foundation provided leading support for the project, with additional major funding from Bill and Laura Buck, and Christie’s. The exhibition catalogue was awarded a David R. Coffin Publication Grant from the Foundation for Landscape Studies.