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Americans in Paris, 1860-1900 at The Met
John Singer Sargent, Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1883–84, Oil on canvas. 82-1/8 x 43-1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1916 (16.53).



NEW YORK.- In the late 19th century, American artists by the hundreds - including such luminaries as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer - were drawn irresistibly to Paris, the world's new art capital, to learn to paint and to establish their reputations. By studying with leading masters and showing their work in Paris, these artists aimed to attract patronage from American collectors who had begun to buy contemporary French art in earnest soon after the end of the Civil War. Paris inspired decisive changes in American painters' styles and subjects, and stimulated the creation of more sophisticated art schools and higher professional standards back in the United States.

Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 17, the landmark exhibition Americans in Paris, 1860-1900 features some 100 oil paintings by 37 Americans whose accomplishments proclaim the truth of Henry James's 1887 observation: "It sounds like a paradox, but it is a very simple truth, that when to-day we look for 'American art' we find it mainly in Paris. When we find it out of Paris, we at least find a great deal of Paris in it." Representing the breadth of artistic activity in Paris, the exhibition includes painters who were aligned with vanguard tendencies - particularly Impressionism - as well as those who espoused the academic principles that many American patrons preferred. The exhibition is made possible by Bank of America. Additional support is provided by the Marguerite and Frank A. Cosgrove Jr. Fund.

The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The showing at the Metropolitan Museum, which is the exhibition's final stop in an international three-city tour, will feature several important canvases - on view only in this location - that are drawn from the Museum's own extensive holdings. Of particular interest are Whistler's masterly Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Théodore Duret, an image of a leading collector, art critic, and consummate "man about Paris," which was painted in 1883 and exhibited at the 1885 Paris Salon, and Eakins's Writing Master, a sensitive portrayal of his father, painted in 1882 and shown in the 1890 Paris Salon. The installation will be further enhanced with fine examples of American sculpture by artists - including Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Frederick William MacMonnies - who also studied and showed in Paris.

"Paris became the world's most beautiful metropolis in the late 19th century, and one of its most dynamic," noted Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum. "Filled with the best of the old and the new - from the Louvre's magnificent collections to Haussmann's grand boulevards - the city attracted throngs of American art students and artists. Along with their international counterparts, they found themselves plunged into a vibrant cultural milieu, a place that a Boston painter described as 'one art studio.' Although the lure of Paris for late 19th-century American artists is now widely recognized, Americans in Paris, 1860-1900 breaks new ground as the first-ever treatment of this subject in a major exhibition in leading museums."










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