Collection Comparison: Monet’s Coastlines

In the Collection Comparison series, we pair one work from Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland with a similar work from the Phillips’s own permanent collection. 

Monet compare

(left) Claude Monet, Calm Weather, Fécamp, 1881. Oil on canvas. The Rudolf Staechelin Collection (right) Monet, Claude, Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning), 1897, Oil on canvas 25 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1959

After the death of his first wife, Camille, in 1879, Monet returned to the Normandy coast of France, where he had spent his youth. Currently on view in the Gauguin to Picasso exhibition, Calm Weather, Fécamp records the natural beauty of the coast looking toward Yport. Positioned from a high vantage point and perhaps painted entirely outdoors, it shows Fécamp’s imposing cliffs, which hug the coastline and appear to emerge from the sea at low tide. This work was exhibited in the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882.

Compare this to the Phillips’s Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) at right above and on view in a nearby gallery in the museum; what similarities or differences do you see? Monet’s Calm Weather, Fécamp was painted in 1881, while Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) was created in 1897. What changes do you notice in the artist’s style?

The Emerald Pools

On vacation last week in Upstate New York, I climbed the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park, spotting many pools that brought to mind John Twachtman’s The Emerald Pool (ca. 1895). Of course, Twachtman’s pool was likely a hot spring and surrounded by the open and dry dirt ground of Yellowstone Park and not the dark, wet stone and lush greenery of the glen. But the beautiful emerald effect of deep pooling water immediately brought this painting to my mind. Duncan Phillips was a great admirer of Twachtman, hanging The Emerald Pool in an esteemed spot alongside Monet for many years. And Marjorie Phillips recorded in her book that, after a visit to the Phillips in 1926, Pierre Bonnard said that it was his favorite American painting.

(Left) Twachtman, John Henry, The Emerald Pool, ca. 1895, Oil on canvas 25 x 25 in.; 63.5 x 63.5 cm.. Acquired 1921. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. (Right) Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender

(Left) John Henry Twachtman, The Emerald Pool, ca. 1895, Oil on canvas 25 x 25 in.; 63.5 x 63.5 cm.. Acquired 1921. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. (Right) Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender

Picturing the Sublime

Prepare to be awed. Picturing the Sublime: Photographs from the Joseph and Charlotte Lichtenberg Collection is now open. Here’s just a taste, but be warned: these photos reveal much more when viewed up close. For a smaller show (eleven works in total), I’m surprised by the range in content—there’s everything from the raw and untouched beauty of Richard Misrach‘s deserts to Edward Burtynsky‘s landscapes, so altered by human activity that I almost feel guilty calling them beautiful. The exhibition is on view through January 13, 2013, and on November 15 exhibition curator Susan Behrends Frank discusses the photographers and their works in a Curator’s Perspective.

Amy Wike, Publicity and Marketing Coordinator

Entrance to the exhibition Picturing the Sublime

Photo: Amy Wike

Image of three photographs featured in the Picturing the Sublime exhibition

Left to right: (1) Lynn Davis, Iceberg XI, Disko Bay, Greenland, 2004 (2) Carleton Watkins, Lower Yosemite Fall, 418 Feet, 1865-66 (3) Richard Misrach, Battleground Point #5, 1999. Photo: Amy Wike