Picasso, Monet and other masters on display at Hood

Where must one go to see a rare collection of artistic works from some of the world’s most renowned painters and sculptors? Want to see an original Monet? Or would you prefer a Picasso? Look no further than the Hood Museum of Art.

Through March 12, the Hood Museum is featuring the works of such artists as Claude Monet, Maurice de Vlaminck, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Auguste Rodin. The works are on view together in the museum’s Albright Gallery.

The works offer a wide variety of artistic styles, all produced in Europe toward the end of the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th century. The majority of the works are oils on canvas, while Rodin’s piece is a cast bronze sculpture.

Exhibiting his signature impressionist style, French painter Monet’s painting “The Garden at Giverny” captures the essence of the painter’s picturesque gardens at his home in the Seine River valley. These gardens are the subjects of more than three hundred of Monet’s later paintings.

The painting on display in the Hood offers a rare perspective from Monet’s gardens. Whereas many of Monet’s Giverny works focus solely on the horticultural beauty of the gardens, “The Garden at Giverny” also integrates a view of Monet’s house with the garden’s blue iris.

Fellow Frenchman Vlaminck’s painting, “The Chestnut Trees at La Jonchre (The Woodcutter),” exhibits the painter’s “fauve” style. Vlaminck is known for his use of broad brushstrokes, which aim to carry the use of color to another level beyond that of solely description.

Vlaminck expresses a deep interest in landscaping in his paintings, as can be seen in the piece in Hood. Unlike other contemporary French painters who were fascinated with the beauty of the landscape, Vlaminck focuses on the people who work off the land, rather than those who enjoy it leisurely.

“Entrance to a Quarry near the Asylum of Saint-Rmy” is a product of Dutch painter van Gogh’s years in a French asylum. Van Gogh’s mental illness forced him to check into the asylum in Saint-Rmy in May 1889.

“Entrance to a Quarry” was painted in July 1889, just before van Gogh experienced his first seizure. As is common in his paintings from the period, this work seems to exhibit van Gogh’s tormented inner state through the swirling brushstrokes and somber colors.

Spanish painter Picasso’s work, “The Sailor,” was painted during the German occupation of France in the early 1940s. During the occupation, Picasso could not display the paintings he executed during the period.

Once France was liberated, Picasso displayed “The Sailor” along with almost 80 other works in a huge exhibition. “The Sailor” may have some political connotations in its style as a self-portrait, but Picasso denied any such motives in its imagery. Was this Picasso’s representation of himself as actively involved in improving a world in crisis?

French painter Henri Matisse’s “The Two Odalisques” demonstrates the artist’s decision to move away from the more abstract style of his earlier paintings toward a more realistic style. Matisse’s later works focus on the application of vivid colors, female nudes and still lifes. This 1921 work features the artist’s ideals of beauty, in the form of the female figure.

The final painting exhibited in the Hood’s show of these European masters is Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Girl in a Fur-Trimmed Dress.” Toulouse-Lautrec is famed for his boldly colored paintings and posters. His subjects range from women in the entertainment venues of 19th-century Paris to members of the lower echelons of society.

In this oil sketch, Toulouse-Lautrec depicts a girl who has been identified as Jeanne Fontaine, who is presumed to have been a member of the night club world of Paris.

The Albright Gallery is also lucky to be the temporary home to Rodin’s bronze sculpture, “Age of Bronze.” Rodin is celebrated as one of the finest sculptors of the 19th century. His works predominantly focus on the human form and capture the emotions of the figures he depicts.

“Age of Bronze” is one of Rodin’s earliest sculptures and demonstrates Rodin’s precision in rendering a realistic human form. This sculpture is a smaller version of a larger piece bearing the same title.

This presentation of the work of European masters is an exciting opportunity for the Hood Museum and its visitors. Although these artistic treasures will only be on display for a short time, visitors will undoubtedly enjoy their chance to view these masterpieces.

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