Americans in Florence. Sargent and the American Impressionists

24 Feb

The exhibition stars the 3 March and it will be opened until the 15 July 2012. It is organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, and curated by Francesca Bardazzi and Carlo Sisi. This year, exactly 500 years since the death of Amerigo Vespucci, Florence will celebrate this event with the “Americans in Florence. Sargent and the American Impressionists” exhibition, with the target to remark the strong ties linking the Old World and the New, and the cosmopolitan ambiance that bound Florence to the New World for ever, transmitting European culture and sophistication to America.
The exhibition wishes  to explore the American impressionists’ relationship with Italy, particularly with Florence, in the years between the end of the 19th and  the beginning of the 20th centuries.
There was a strong increase in the number of American artists travelling to Europe after the Civil War.
The trend continued on into the beginning og 20th century. Many painters came to Paris and in other French Regions. Some others went to Germany, to Holland, England, and to Spain.
Of course, Italy was anyway a very strong pole of attraction for the majority of them. Florence, Rome and Venice  had been at the main destinations of the Grand tour, and had become legendary for all those eager to study the art of the past.
After the recent exhibitions in France and England which explored these American artists’ relationship with those two countries, this exhibition will be hosting the work of American painters, part of the Impressionism vogue and spent time in Italy.
The “American in Florence. Sargent ….” exhibition contains works by: Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, John La Farge and Thomas Eakins.
These will be followed by the great forerunners, artists such as John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who could boast of strong cosmopolitan leanings.
The main part of the exhibition will comprise works by artists of remarkable quality who spent time in Florence and who deserve to be better known. Their number includes members of the American impressionist group known as the Ten American Painters: William Merrit Chase, John Henry Twachman and Frederick Childe Hassam. Franck Duveneck also played an important role in fostering relations between American and local artists by putting together the “Duveneck boys“, a group that included his wife Elisabeth Boott and the painter Joseph Rodefer De Camp.
The Americans in Florence lived  in close contact with their scholar, collector, writer and art critic compatriots in the city, with some of whom they had previously had dealings in America: Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge, Bernard Berenson, Henry and William James, Egisto Fabbri and his sisters Ernestine, a painter, and Cora, a poet, Mabel Hooper La Farge, Bancel La Farge, Charles Loeser and Edith Wharton. Though tending not to mix with the local population, these American colonies in Italy learnt the lesson of the most up-to-date Italian painting of the day – in Florence it is worth highlighting the importance of the Macchiaioli – and had a certain impact on Italian artists and thinkers, introducing sophisticated and cosmopolitan lifestyles and adopting a more relaxed attitude towards women.
The exhibition will include high quality female portraits in which women symbolise the modern American nation: young girls, adolescents and even children, often dressed in white, personify the purity and hopes of an entire nation. The female portrait theme provides a link with the activity of American women painters, who were far more emancipated than their French and European counterparts. The more enterprising among them came to Europe and contributed to the cultural osmosis between their country and the Old World, a shining example of this trend being Mary Cassatt. Painting for women was considered little more than a passtime in Europe. Women painters in America were allowed to frequent the academies on an equal footing with their male countparts, while in Paris they had no option but to enrol in private schools for a long time yet.
More information about the exhibition contact: Ph. + 39 055 2645155; to Buy Tickets on line
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