Skip to Content
True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870
July 20 – November 15, 2020
West Building, Ground Floor, Inner Tier

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

An integral part of art education in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, open-air painting was a core practice for emerging artists in Europe. Intrepid artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, John Constable, Simon Denis, Jules 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 ruins of Rome. Drawing on new scholarship, this exhibition of some 100 oil sketches made outdoors across Europe during that time includes several recently discovered works and explores the variety of inventive ways in which enraptured artists recorded their moments in nature.

Organization: The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris; and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Hashtag: #PaintingTruetoNature

Passes: Admission is always free, but timed passes are required for entry for the West Building

Other venues: Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, February 20–May 23, 2021
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, June 22–September 19, 2021

Gallery Talks
Attend staff led gallery talks.
See upcoming talks related to this exhibition.

Concerts
yMusic: Liquid Music @NGA
April 19 at 3:30 p.m.
West Building, West Garden Court

Painting in the Open Air: A Conversation with Ann Lofquist
Video, Released: March 17, 2020, (62:29 minutes)
Painting in the Open Air: A Conversation with Ann Lofquist
Audio, Released: March 17, 2020, (62:29 minutes)
Weather in Art: From Symbol to Science
Video, Released: March 10, 2020, (70:25 minutes)
Weather in Art: From Symbol to Science
Audio, Released: March 10, 2020, (70:25 minutes)
Collecting European Landscape Sketches: An Introduction to Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870
Audio, Released: March 3, 2020, (60:52 minutes)
Collecting European Landscape Sketches: An Introduction to Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870
Video, Released: March 3, 2020, (60:52 minutes)
True to Nature: Curator’s Quick Tour
Video, Released: February 2, 2020, (3:33 minutes)
Press Event: True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870
Audio, Released: January 28, 2020, (95:25 minutes)