The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Presents INTIMATE IMPRESSIONISM FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, 3/29-8/3

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Presents INTIMATE IMPRESSIONISM FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, 3/29-8/3

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to present Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, featuring the work of 19th century avant-garde painters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition includes nearly 70 paintings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and features a selection of intimately scaled impressionist and post-impressionist still lifes, portraits and landscapes, whose charm and fluency invite close scrutiny.

The significance of this exhibition is grounded in the high quality of each example and in the works' variety of subject matter. The paintings' dimensions reflect their intended function: display in domestic interiors. Their intimate effect also extends to the paintings' themes-many are studies of the artists' favorite places and depictions of people familiar to them, and the works often became gifts shared among friends.

Iconic subjects of the impressionists are represented in many of the canvases: ballerinas and racehorses by Edgar Degas, still lifes by Paul Cézanne and depictions of fashionable young women by Renoir. The more decorative use of color and pattern in the later paintings are representative of the work of Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, members of a group known as the Nabis (Hebrew for "prophets").

"Intimate Impressionism resonates with the outstanding impressionist and post-impressionist works from the Museums' own holdings," says Colin B. Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "This exhibition is the latest in a rich history of collaborations between the Fine Arts Museums and the National Gallery of Art dating back to the 1940s. We are pleased to host these national treasures and provide our audience with the opportunity to view them here at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco."

These works are among the most beloved paintings at the National Gallery of Art and usually hang in a special suite of rooms in its East Building. These exhibition spaces are currently undergoing renovation, making this presentation in San Francisco possible. Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection, also traveling during the renovation, opens in June at the de Young.

"The National Gallery of Art is delighted to share our masterpieces with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, providing thousands of visitors with an opportunity to experience the Gallery's celebrated collections," says Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art.

Most of the works in Intimate Impressionism came to the National Gallery of Art from the private collections formed by Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Paul Mellon, children of the museum's founder, Andrew Mellon. The efforts of Paul and his wife, Rachel Lambert Mellon, on behalf of the Gallery's collection cemented the institution's role as one of the world's leading repositories of French modernist painting. Longtime museumgoers in the Bay Area might remember seeing some of the paintings from Mrs. Mellon Bruce's collection in 1960, when they were still owned by her and were on loan to the Legion of Honor. Intimate Impressionism returns a selection of these works to San Francisco more than half a century later.

"Intimate Impressionism illuminates the numerous ways that the word intimate applies to particular paintings of this era: the close relationships between the artists and their subjects; the friendships among the artists themselves; and the compositions scaled for display in private residential settings," says Melissa Buron, associate curator of European art.