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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Impressionism: La Maison de Monet

Giverny, house
House front view. Image from Foundation Claude Monet Giverny, http://www.fondation-monet.fr/fr/content/difalcone-2011

On an estate in Giverny, France sits a long two-story home, its pink facade perforated with windows, each framed by Veronese green shutters. Intermittently, a Virginia creeper meanders its way up, around and between the windows. In front of the home an orchard space has been converted into an expansive flower garden. Beyond, a river has been expertly manipulated into a serene water garden.

This was the home of Claude Monet.

At the Milwaukee Art Museum Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper has made its debut with more than 120 drawings, watercolors, and pastels on display from some of the best known (and even a few lesser known) impressionist and post-impressionist artists. This seems a fitting time, in the spirit of impressionism, to discuss (in lieu of any one piece from his oeuvre) Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, France.

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Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Léon Augustin Lhermitte’s “Haymaking Time”

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, Haymaking Time (La Fenaison), 1897. Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 38 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase with funds from Avis Martin Heller in honor of the Fine Arts Society, M2010.68. Photo by John R. Glembin.

On October 14, the Milwaukee Art Museum opened the exhibition Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper.

The exhibition perfectly sets the scene for looking at a painting recently acquired by the Milwaukee Art Museum, shown at left as it looks mid-conservation.

Haymaking Time (La Fenaison) by the French artist Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925) is one of the most important paintings by an artist who was extremely influential in his day, but is not a household name today.

This painting can begin a conversation about how wide-ranging the term “impressionism” can be, and who was part of that celebrated movement, and who was not.

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Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Wilhelm Trübner’s “Salome”

Salome Wilhelm Trübner 1898 Oil on cardboard 39 3/4 x 21 in. (100.97 x 53.34 cm) Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1978.2
Wilhelm Trübner (German, 1851–1917), Salome, 1898. Oil on cardboard, 39 3/4 x 21 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund, M1978.2. Photo by Larry Sanders.

German artist Wilhelm Trübner’s depiction of Salome shows the New Testament character brazenly nude, holding the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

When this painting by an admittedly-minor artist was recently rotated into the permanent collection gallery #11, it was hung alongside masterpieces by Monet and Caillebotte. I was stunned that my eyes left Boating on the Yerres to look instead at this girl, Salome, painted in vibrant colors with dramatic light and shadow on the model’s skin.

I was also stunned that after a childhood of of attending Sunday school, I needed to turn to Wikipedia to learn more about Salome.

I learned that this temptress-of-legend has been the inspiration for everything from an Oscar Wilde one-act play to a B-side song by U2.

The Biblical story explains that Salome, daughter of Herodias and therefore stepdaughter of King Herod Antipas, danced to entertain and seduce the ruler of Galilee at his 1st century AD birthday celebration. Her dance survives in our cultural imagination as the “Dance of the Seven Veils,” during which seven veils are sequentially and tauntingly removed. You can watch femme fatale Rita Hayworth performing the dance in her 1953 film Salomé.