It was such a beautiful surprise for us to discover the Tacoma Art Museum and its latest exhibition: Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919)
Heads of Two Young Girls, 1890
Tacoma Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W. Hilding Lindberg, 1983.1.35
Photo © Tacoma Art Museum, photo by Terry Rishel

This exhibition features art works by major French Impressionists and explains how art pieces found their way from Europe into public and private collections of the Pacific Northwest.
This exhibition also emphasizes the influence of the Impressionist Movement in the United States, through pieces created by local and American artists.

Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898)
Trouville Harbor, circa 1888
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Horace C. Henry Collection, FA 26.11
Photo © Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle

The exhibition is divided into three parts: Pre-Impressionism, French Impressionism and American Impressionism.

American Impressionism had a slower start than European Impressionism. Several American artists trained in France, among them the painters Theodore Robinson and Theodore Wendel who traveled to Giverny and became close friends of Claude Monet. However, for a long time, American collectors much preferred French artists. American Impressionism started gaining popularity thanks to painters travelling abroad but also thanks to art dealers and collectors.

Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926)
River at Lavacourt, 1879
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon. Bequest of Charles Francis Adams, 43.8.33
Photo © Portland Art Museum

For instance, in 1886, French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel organized an exhibition in New-York. A remarkable entrepreneur, he promoted artists belonging to the Ecole de Barbizon and to the Impressionist movement. He also set up a network of art galleries in Paris, London, Brussels and New-York, in which he subsequently organized several exhibitions.

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)
Portrait of Alexander J. Cassatt, 1888
Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin, by exchange, 88.154
Photo © Seattle Art Museum, photo by Susan Cole

Charles Frye, a rich collector of American art who lived in Seattle, also helped making American Impressionism more popular, by opening up his collections to the public.

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Danseuses (Dancers), 1879
Tacoma Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W. Hilding Lindberg, 1983.1.8
Photo © Tacoma Art Museum, photo by Richard Nicol

The exhibition shows about fifty pieces coming from the following museums: Frye Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum and private collections. Major Impressionists are presented: Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, along with pre-impressionist artists such as Eugène Boudin, Jean-Baptiste Corot, Gustave Courbet, and Johan Barthold Jongkind.

Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894)
Barque près de la rive, effet d’automne (Small Boat Near Riverbank, Autumn Effect), 1883
Frye Art Museum, 1987.008
Photo © Frye Art Museum

The Tacoma Museum opened its doors 80 years ago. It contains more than 5,000 pieces, with a specific focus on art and artists of the Pacific Northwest and broader western region. 25% of the Museum’s collection emphasizes glass art with many pieces by local artist Dale Chihuly.