National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image:The Darker Side of Light: Arts of Privacy, 1850–1900

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Related Resources

Exhibition Highlights
Image: Darker Side of Light Exhibition Highlights

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Image: Darker Side of Light Video
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exhibition catalogue
Image: The Darker Side of Light: Arts of Privacy, 1850-1900

NGA Behind the Scenes: The Darker Side of Light: Arts of Privacy, 1850–1900
Peter Parshall, curator, old master prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington
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Press Materials

Image: For much of today's public the art of the late 19th century connotes impressionism, an art of the open air and the café-concert, invoking the pleasure of the landscape and the city with its many entertainments. But there is another side to the story—the discreet world of individual collecting in which prints, drawings, and small sculpture were kept aside in portfolios or stored away in cabinets. Organized around the city centers of Paris, London, and Berlin, the exhibition will include more than 100 works—mainly prints, but also drawings, illustrated books, and small sculpture—from the Gallery's extensive collections that reveal the romantic sensibilities of the arts of privacy. Here the experience of art was a private affair, like taking a book down from the shelf for quiet enjoyment. The arts of privacy encouraged the expression of darker thoughts and moody reflections—a milieu that recruited the talents of academics, realists, impressionists, and symbolists.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an unprecedented catalogue on the study of the nature of the private aesthetic experience in 19th-century collecting.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.