Collecting Impressionism: Telfair’s Modern Vision

Exhibition Website

Mar 6 2020 - Jan 1 2021


In the 1870s, a radical new style of painting made its debut: Impressionism. Artists associated with the Impressionist movement broke with tradition by focusing on the effects of light and atmosphere, featuring a bright palette of vibrant colors and choppy, textured brushstrokes, and by taking modern life, rather than scenes from history or mythology, as their subject. This avant-garde style of art making quickly spread from its epicenter in Paris to other artistic hubs throughout Europe, the United States, and the world. In Savannah, Telfair Museums began acquiring and exhibiting canvases by French, German, and American Impressionist painters as early as 1906, often purchasing works directly from the artists themselves.

In this exhibition, Telfair Museums digs deep into its more than 7,000-work permanent collection to reveal some of the most striking examples of American, German, and French Impressionism in the United States. Collecting Impressionism: Telfair’s Modern Vision traces the early 20th-century footsteps of noted Telfair art advisor Gari Melchers (1860–1932) as he traveled the country and the globe identifying remarkable examples of the avant- garde art movement and giving them a permanent home in Savannah. His prescient collecting decisions laid the groundwork for one of the most important and beloved parts of Telfair’s collection.

The exhibition tells the story of Impressionism through Telfair’s unique lens, highlighting more than three dozen works by Jean-François Raffaëlli, George Sauter, Ernst Oppler, George Hitchcock, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, William Merritt Chase, and many more, including Melchers himself.​

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website 

Image: Gari Melchers, The Unpretentious Garden (c. 1903 - 1915), oil on canvas (33 5/8 × 40 1/2 inches).  Museum purchase with funds provided by the Button Gwinnett Autograph Fund. Telfair Museums, Savannah GA

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