Work from the collection of English industrialist Samuel Courtauld—who helped introduce the UK to Impressionism—is heading to Paris next year.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton will stage “The Courtauld Collection. A Vision for Impressionism,” February 20 through June 17, 2019. The show will include around 100 works from the late 19th century and early 20th century by artists including Manet, Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin, many of which haven’t been shown in the French capital in more than 60 years.
The show also looks at the life of the philanthropist and his role as one of the most important collectors of the 20th century. Courtauld was particularly influential in building the reputation of the Impressionists in Britain, and he persisted in growing his collection despite the hostility of art critics of the day, who considered the Impressionists a joke. One famous exhibition, “Manet and the Post-Impressionists,” organized by Roger Fry in 1910 at London’s Grafton Galleries was met with virulent criticism and was called “outrageous, anarchistic and childish,” as Virgina Woolf recounts in her 1924 essay “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown.”
Nevertheless, Courtauld went on to amass the largest number of Cézanne works in the UK, including one of the five versions of his famous Card Players, made around 1892-96.
Courtauld’s collection also expanded to include works such as Gaugin’s Tahitian nude Nevermore and Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear (1889). He established the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where art history and conservation were taught at the university level for the first time in the country, and to which he donated the bulk of his collection in 1932.
Courtauld also established a fund for the purchase of modern French paintings for the National Gallery, with which it was able to acquire important work such as Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield with Cypresses (1889), the first work by the Dutch artist to enter a public collection in the UK.
The show at Fondation Louis Vuitton encompasses mostly paintings, such as Manet’s last major work, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, which was exhibited in Paris in the Salon of 1882, and Renoir’s 1874 La Loge, but will also include some works on paper. Watercolors by William Turner that belonged to Courtauld’s brother Stephen will also make an appearance.
Most of the work included in the show will be traveling from the Courtauld Gallery in London, which is slated for a temporary closure in September so that it can undergo renovation. London’s National Gallery has also lent some works, including Van Gogh’s Wheatfield, while other works formerly in Courtauld’s collection were borrowed from collections around the world.
“The Courtauld Collection. A Vision for Impressionism” runs February 20 through June 17, 2019, at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
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