Impressionists Back on Display at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge

Claude Monet, 1885, The Rock Needle and Porte d’Aval, Etrétat. Oil on canvas, 64.8 x 81 cm. © The Fitzwilliam Museum
“The Fitzwilliam is engaged in a staged programme of refurbishment of its galleries which provides an opportunity not only to refresh the displays but, just as importantly, to bring the fruits of new research and interpretations to bear on the understanding of our works. The beautiful new Impressionist gallery, one of the jewels of the Founder’s Building, achieves all of these aims in what is sure to be one of our most popular displays.” Dr Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, 2011

A number of art museums are either in the process of refurbishing their galleries or have just re-opened newly renovated galleries, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England is one. In November last year Gallery 5, one of their more popular galleries, re-opened after an extensive make-over. This is the Fitzwilliams’ French Impressionists and other late 19th and early 20th century permanent exhibition.

The newly refurbished Impressionist gallery follows is the latest in a series of other recently renovated art and archaeology galleries, including the Egyptian gallery, the 19th and 20th century British Art gallery and the Classical Greece and Rome gallery. Besides enhanced display techniques that allow visitors to better appreciate these wonderful works of art, the display includes more detailed information about the history of Impressionism, and also how these specific paintings came to be in the Museum’s collection.

When the Impressionists were curating their own exhibitions in Paris, exhibitions that challenged every aspect of the art establishment, one of the things they did was to hang their paintings on backgrounds that were bold and striking in colour. And, they would even use several different colours within a single exhibition. Not only were they doing something radical with what they painted and the techniques they used, but they followed through with their radical approach to also include how their paintings were experienced. And now, over a century later art galleries around the world are returning to these ideas. At the Fitzwilliam, the paintings have now been hung on dramatic dark blue-grey walls.

Jane Munro, the curator of the Impressionist gallery says,

“It is wonderful to be able to redisplay their works in an appropriately vibrant setting that allows their innovative, light-infused paintings to be seen and understood as never before in the museum.”

The Fitzwilliam Museum, situated in the heart of Cambridge, has one of the finest collections of French Impressionist paintings. The artists represented in the collection include Claude Monet (see above), Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro (see below), Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley and Pierre Auguste Renoir. So visitors to the museum will not be disappointed! Have you been, what did you think? Leave us a comment below.

Camille Pissarro, 1895, Effet de neige a Erangy, avec un pommier. Oil on canvas, 38.2 x 46.2 cm. © The Fitzwilliam
Camille Pissarro, 1895, Effet de neige a Erangy, avec un pommier. Oil on canvas, 38.2 x 46.2 cm. © The Fitzwilliam

Fancy a unique, all inclusive three day break in Normandy, visiting Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny as well as Pissarro’s house in Eragny-sur-Epte, and a chauffeured day trip along the Normandy coast where both Monet and Pissarro painted, including Etretat?

Read about the 3 day break on my Basse Copette website

The Porte d'Aval at Etretat
The Porte d’Aval at Etretat, the inspiration for Monet’s painting above.

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Welcome to my guide to Normandy's Impressionist heritage - 'In Monet's Footsteps. Besides the inspiring gardens in Giverny, there really is so much more for lovers of French Impressionism to explore in Normandy. Continue reading ...
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