From Monet to Matisse: An Impressive Exhibition

One of the paintings on display at the Monet and Matisse Exhibition Gallery. Lila Miller.

Lila Miller, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Telfair museums opened their Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism exhibition at the Jepson Center, on Sep 28. The Jepson Center is located in Savannah’s Historic District and is just one of three sites that constitutes Telfair Museums.

The Jepson Center’s latest exhibition examines the prolific artists that pioneered the French Impressionist and subsequent Post-Impressionist era movements spanning the late 19th century into the early 20th century.

The exhibition showcases 30 paintings from the likes of famous painters including Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, and Henri Matisse.

For some background, the Impressionist Movement rejected the past academic painting subjects in history, mythology and religion in favor of non-traditional methods. The Impressionists as they would later come to be known, practiced painting en plein air, or directly on location. They painted subjects of modern life beginning in Paris, France and ultimately spreading across the country and well into other Europe nations.

The Impressionists focused on moments in time, or a “quick impression of a particular moment in nature.” The father of impressionism is undoubtedly Claude Monet, along with Edward Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissaro and Alfred Sisley. Although their mediums differed, they all desired to showcase their work outside the conservative Paris Salon. The term “impressionist” was actually derived from a scathing response to Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” by contemporary art critic Louis Leroy.

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The exhibition is being held in three consecutive rooms in the large gallery on the second floor of the museum. The paintings are grouped fairly chronologically, and plaques next to each painting give a bit of history surrounding the artist. As was prevalent at the time as well as now, many artists were discouraged from pursuing creative careers in favor of more financially prudent ventures.  

In the gallery, viewers can also see beautiful works of both French Impressionism, as well as post-impressionism, where artists utilized the Impressionists techniques but also added more detail.

The exhibition ends Feb 10. Student admission costs $15 and includes admission to the Jepson Center, Telfair Academy and The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters. For the budget-conscious, Telfair Museums offers free family days roughly once a month for Chatham County residents.