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Release Date: February 14, 2008

The Impressionist’s Toolbox on View March 3–June 7, 2008; Complements In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet at the National Gallery of Art

Washington, DC—The artists who created amazing works of impressionist art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had unprecedented access to equipment and information. Tools of the Trade will present a rare and fascinating collection of vintage art-supply catalogues, instruction manuals, and historic gear. On view from March 3 through June 6, 2008, in the East Building, the display is a joint effort of the National Gallery of Art library and conservation departments. Hours of the exhibition are Monday, noon to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except federal holidays.

The display complements In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet, a showcase of 19th-century landscape works created in the famous forest south of Paris that attracted both painters and photographers. That exhibition in Washington is made possible by The Florence Gould Foundation. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Tools of the Trade includes three sections that highlight materials available for oil painting, works on paper, and photography. Each section begins with a selection of instruction books describing techniques ranging from color harmony to perspective, landscape composition to pastel technique, and paint mixing to photographic developing. Part two of each section features illustrated catalogues showing everything an artist would need to venture outside the studio, such as paint boxes, brushes, easels, portable folios and stools, cameras, and tripods from around the world. Each section ends with images of artists at work.

Exhibition Curators

The co-curators of the exhibition are Neal Turtell, executive librarian, and Yuri Long, library researcher, both at the National Gallery of Art.

Library and Rare Books Collection

The National Gallery of Art Library contains more than 350,000 books and periodicals, including more than 8,000 volumes in the rare book collection, with an emphasis on Western art from the middle ages to the present. Founded in 1941 when the West Building opened to the public, the library moved to the East Building in 1979. The photographic archives and slide library contain more than 11 million black-and-white prints and 300,000 slides of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the decorative arts. Access to the library is by appointment only. Call (202) 842-6511 for more information.