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Collecting European Landscape Sketches

An Introduction to True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780-1870

  • Sunday, February 2, 2020
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall

Léon-François-Antoine Fleury, The Tomb of Caecilia Metella, c. 1830, oil on canvas, Gift of Frank Anderson Trapp, 2004.166.16

An integral part of art education in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, painting en plein air was a core practice for avant-garde artists in Europe. Intrepid artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille CorotJohn ConstableSimon DenisJules Coignet, and André Giroux—highly skilled at quickly capturing effects of light and atmosphere—made sometimes arduous journeys to paint their landscapes in person at breathtaking sites ranging from the Baltic coast and Swiss Alps to the streets of Paris and the ruins of Rome.

The exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780-1870 consists of some 100 oil sketches, including several recently discovered works. Drawing on new scholarship, it explores issues such as attribution, chronology, and technique. To celebrate its opening at the National Gallery of Art on February 2, 2020, Mary Morton leads a conversation with Ger Luijten, Jane Munro, and Alice Goldet. True to Nature is on view through May 3, 2020.

A signing of the exhibition catalog follows.