For several years the Institute has had the good fortune to have the loan of a large and varied collection of nineteenth-century French prints assembled by Mrs. Charles S. Pillsbury over a period of twenty years. So representative is the collection—including works by Lepère, Meryon, Béjot, Legros, Frélaut, Beaufrère, Vergé-Sarrat, Daumier, Vlaminck, Degas, Dufy, Toulouse-Lautrec, Derain, Manet, and others—and so diversified from the points of view of subject and technique, that it provides endless material for exhibition.On view in the print gallery at this time is an exhibition from the Pillsbury collection illustrating the work of both landscape and figure artists in the nineteenth century. The landscape group has been limited to prints depicting ports, rivers, and other waterways to Europe, and the figure group to works by Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec and other painter-etchers whose lives impinged on that of Gauguin, now represented in the permanent collection by the Tahitian scene Under the Pandanus.
Aside from their artistic merit, the water scenes in the exhibition cannot but have a nostalgic charm for all those who remember Europe in happier days. Among those artists who conveyed most successfully the joyous and vital aspect of life was August Lepère, an artist to whom the human element in any scene appealed strongly. He is seen in a gay mood in Retour de Greenwich,
la nuit, in which his splendid feeling for characterization is displayed at its best. The sunny and inviting quais along the Seine in Paris, favorites with artists and strollers alike, figure in two etching by Béjot: The Bank of the Quai d'Anjou,
and the Quai des Touileries.
By Béjot also are a view of the Old Port at Marseilles,
and the Outer Port at Dieppe.
These prints, with their subtle play of light on stone and water, their busy harbors with ships riding at anchor, are typical of the sort of subjects that delighted Béjot.Other prints which illustrate the peculiar fascination that port and river scenes have exercised on artists are Tug Boats at La Rochelle
by Leheutre, The Pont Neuf, Paris,
by André Dauchez, and the Pont Marie
and Quai of the Hotel de Ville
by Pierre.In this group of prints the artists of nineteenth-century France have recorded, now with delicate and singing lines, now with a soft and velvet tones, the physical aspects of country that inspired them with love and pride. The glimpses one gets of it through their work are precious, for they make imperishable the memory of much that now has perished.Referenced Work of Art
- The Pont Marie by Gustave Pierre. French, XIX century.