American Impressionism transforms the Polk Museum of Art's galleries this summer and fall

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American Impressionism transforms the Polk Museum of Art's galleries this summer and fall
Charles H. Davis, A Clearing in June, oil on canvas. Huntington Museum of Art, Photo: John Spurlock.

LAKELAND, FLA.- The Polk Museum of Art announced its headlining Summer and Fall exhibition, “American Impressionism: Treasures from the Daywood Collection,” on view from July 31 to October 24, 2021.

The works in the exhibition, from the late 19th through early 20th centuries, represent a transitional time in the world of American art. Influenced by the rise of Impressionism in France, American artists began to expand their own repertoires by using non-academic techniques, employing less rigid styles and selecting less traditional subject matter than that typically found in painting in the preceding centuries. Instead, American artists of this new Impressionist bent shifted toward painting scenes from daily life — landscapes or urban scenes or portraits of everyday people — with loose brush strokes and vivid colors. Painting frequently en plein air, they turned to nature and townscapes, depicted scenes of rolling hills, snowy streets, and fantastic fall landscapes, and turned regular individuals into worthy subjects of their work.

“American Impressionism may find its origins on the European continent, but it takes on a considerable life of its own once the style arrives in the United States,” explains Dr. Alex Rich, executive director and chief curator of the Polk Museum of Art. “Moreover, as this exhibition makes clear, rather than just an imitative art movement, with its notably American subject matter and a uniquely American flair, American Impressionism flourishes as a genre — and ‘school’ — of art unto itself in the years surrounding the turn of the 20th century.”

Featuring 41 rarely-seen Impressionist paintings, the works were originally from the private collection of Arthur Dayton and Ruth Woods Dayton (whose surnames combine to create the collection’s portmanteau name: “Day-Wood”). Celebrated as patrons of the arts in West Virginia and as consequential collectors of American art, the Daytons developed a fine art collection that exceeded 200 works. This extraordinary and beautiful exhibition exemplifies how the support of patrons like the Daytons helped American Impressionists claim their niche in the art world, allowing them to hone their crafts, survive as artists, and find national acclaim at the turn of the 20th century.

While viewers immerse themselves in the American Impressionist movement, they will also be able to participate in educational and entertaining programming in conjunction with the exhibition, including Museum After Hours, Curator Tours, Gallery Talks, a Members Reception, and special events throughout the duration of the show.

“American Impressionism: Treasures from the Daywood Collection” was organized by the Huntington Museum of Art and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. The collection is available for viewing July 31 to October 24, 2021 in the Museum’s Dorothy Jenkin’s Gallery.

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