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Collections Of Works By Robinson, Inspired By Monet, Opens This Weekend At Wadsworth Atheneum



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Collections Of Works By Robinson, Inspired By Monet, Opens This Weekend At Wadsworth Atheneum

HARTFORD — “In Monet’s Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny,” a new exhibition at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, explores how the American Robinson painter developed his own Impressionist style under the influence of the modern French master Claude Monet. The exhibition will be at the museum June 4 through September 4, and features nearly 60 of Robinson’s finest works as well as seven paintings by Monet.

Born in rural Irasburg, Vt., and raised in Evansville, Wisc., Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) was trained in Chicago, New York, and Paris to draw and paint in the polished Academic realist style. While studying in Paris he became familiar with works by the Impressionist avant-garde, and he appears to have traveled to the small farming village of Giverny in the Seine valley to meet Monet in 1885.

Between June 1887 and December 1892, Robinson spent extended periods painting in and around the hamlet, where he formed a warm friendship with the reclusive French painter who also became his mentor.

Like Monet, the American artist was captivated by the Normandy countryside. There he dedicated himself to exploring the optical effects of light and movement at the root of the Impressionist style. At Giverny, Robinson’s range of subject matter expanded, his palette lightened, and his brushwork loosened.

He also began to employ photography as a compositional aid. Two cyanotypes included in the exhibition demonstrate that the framing of the image and the models’ poses were carefully arranged studies for the paintings “At the Fountain” (circa 1890) and “Gossips” (1891).

This exhibition devoted to Robinson’s Giverny production is arranged in four sections.

The first, “The Village and its Surroundings,” offers panoramic views from the hillsides of the Seine river valley to illustrate Robinson’s new interest in landscape painting. Many of these expansive works include aspects of the town as seen in “Giverny” (circa 1888).

In “Friends and Acquaintances as Models,” Robinson depicts villagers in unguarded moments and engaged in typical outdoor activities, whether crossing a small footbridge in “By the Brook” (circa 1891) or strolling from the town hall toward an unseen church in “The Wedding March” (1892). This section includes Robinson’s charcoal drawing of Monet clad in casual country attire.

The third section is “His Favorite Model — Images of Marie”: Other than her given name, the identity of Robinson’s favorite model is unknown.

She appears in an elegant Paris salon in “At the Piano” (1887), seated on a hillside reading a book in “Val d’Arconville” (circa 1888), in peasant garb amid the shimmering foliage of “La Vachere” (1888) and its variation, “In the Grove” (circa 1888), and stylishly dressed and seated by an arched stone bridge in “La Debacle” (1892), Robinson’s final likeness of her.

The final section, “Pairs, Sequences, and Series,” shows that under Monet’s influence, Robinson produced multiple canvases of similar views under various atmospheric conditions and at different times of the day. Transient moments Robinson captured are apparent in “Saint Martin’s Summer, Giverny” (circa 1891), “Afternoon Shadows” (1891), and three sweeping views of the Seine valley (1892).

“In Monet’s Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny” was organized and circulated by The Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Wadsworth’s in-house curator is Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, the Krieble curator of American painting and sculpture.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 224-page full-color catalog written by Sona Johnston, senior curator of painting and sculpture at The Baltimore Museum of Art and the leading scholar on Theodore Robinson. The catalog also includes an essay on Monet by Paul Hayes Tucker, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Monet and Impressionism.

Co-published by The Baltimore Museum of Art and Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., the catalog is available for purchase at The Museum Shop for $30 paperbacks, $45 hardcover.

The Wadsworth Atheneum, at 600 Main Street in Hartford, is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 am to 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. On the first Thursday of each month, the museum is open until 8 pm.

Visit www.WadsworthAtheneum.org or call 860-278-2670 for information about exhibitions, programs, membership, parking, etc.

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