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New Westmont Exhibition to Focus on French Barbizon, Realism, Impressionism

Eugène Boudin’s “The Port of Bordeaux” Click to view larger
Eugène Boudin’s “The Port of Bordeaux” (Westmont photo)

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art will showcase work by some of the most recognized names in the annals of art history Jan. 14 through March 19, 2016. 

“Barbizon, Realism, and Impressionism in France” features more than two dozen works from the Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree collection. An opening reception, to be held Thursday, Jan. 14, from 4 - 6 p.m., is free and open to the public.

The exhibition features prominent artists associated with the famed Barbizon, realism and impressionism schools, including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Caillebotte, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Charles-François Daubigny, Narcisse Virgile Díaz de la Peña, Jules Dupré, Henri-Joseph Harpignies, Charles-Emile Jacque, Henri Matisse, Jean-François Millet, Théodore Rousseau and Constant Troyon.

“This exhibition features many of the works painted in the Forest of Fontainebleau, but it has a wider scope, blending in a few canvases from other sites,” says Westmont Provost Mark Sargent. “It also includes works by impressionists who were strongly influenced by the Barbizon artists’ plein air practices, such as Alfred Sisley, and Berthe Morisot.

"There are also two American artists in the exhibition whose work was transformed by what they saw of contemporary art in France: Frederick Childe Hassam and Mary Cassatt,” Sargent says.

The exhibition also includes works by Jules Breton, Stanislas-Victor-Édouard Lépine and Édouard Vuillard.

President Gayle D. Beebe says Lady Ridley-Tree generously donated her art library to Westmont so students would be able to appreciate the beautiful and scholarly tomes.

“When I think of Leslie, I also think of this great woman of faith; a woman who loves her neighbor; a woman who radiates a spirit of hope,” Beebe says. “Another unforgettable attribute of Leslie is her generosity. She lives out the Christian notion of ‘blessed to be a blessing.’

"Whatever gifts Leslie has been privileged to receive, she graciously returns to family, friends and the community. She is the model of a wise philanthropist, and I count it as one of the great joys of my life to consider her such a dear friend. She is someone from whom I have learned so much about living life to its fullest,” Beebe says.

The museum produced a catalog to accompany the exhibition, which features a foreword by Beebe, an introduction by Sargent and artist entries written by professors Mary Collier, Greg Spencer, John Blondell, Christian Hoeckley, Judy Larson, James Taylor, Cheri Larsen Hoeckley, Dinora Cardoso, Marianne Robins, Mark T. Nelson, Katherine Calloway, Meagan Stirling, Caryn Reeder, Chris Rupp, Alister Chapman, Lisa J. De Boer, Karen M. Andrews, Richard Pointer, Enrico Manlapig, Nathan Huff and professor emeritus Tony Askew.

Randy VanderMey wrote a poem in response to Díaz de la Peña’s “Mountain Peaks in the Pyrenees,” and Paul J. Willis responded with a poem of his own to Charles-Emile Jacque’s “Herd of Sheep on the Edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau.” 

Steve Hodson composed “Shimmering Water,” a song for piano reflecting on Daubigny’s painting “Cows on the Bank of the Oise.”

Staff members Tatiana Nazarenko, Mona Motte Wilds, Rachel Urbano and Sarah Stanley as well as students Jenna Haring, a studio art major, and Andrea Larez, a music performance major, have contributed entries.

“We had many generous sponsors step forward in support of this important exhibition,” says Judy Larson, R. Anthony Askew professor of art history and museum director. “We would like to say a special thank you to our lead sponsors: Union Bank and George Leis; Michael W. Kidd in memory of Dr. John B. Jantzen and Benjamin E. Ortega; Mary Beth and Jim Vogelzang; and Sharol and Wayne Siemens. We also thank the Museum board of advisors including Christine and Bob Emmons, Walter and Darlene Hansen, Shari and George Isaac, Mark and Arlyne Sargent, the Siemenses, the Vogelzangs and Barry Winick and Linda Saccoccio.

"Also, many thanks to Dr. Gayle Beebe and Pam Beebe for their support of this exhibition. We are especially grateful to Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree for lending selections from her 19th-century French art collection, and for underwriting the exhibition catalog,” Larson said.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Paul Tucker, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will offer a free public lecture about Monet and French Impressionism Feb. 1, 2016, at 6 p.m. in Westmont’s Porter Theatre.

“Bonjour de France!” a French family day celebrating French culture, will occur Saturday, March 5, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in and around the museum. The festival, which is free and open to all ages, will include fun activities, crafts, food, music and performances.

The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and college holidays.

For more information, please visit www.westmontmuseum.org or contact the museum at 805.565.6162.

Scott Craig is the manager of media relations for Westmont College.


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