In a letter to Ailsa Mellon Bruce, whose birthday is today, the second director of the National Gallery of Art John Walker wrote, “It is difficult to know how to thank you for your generosity to the Gallery. Perhaps if I told you that your support has meant more to me than anything else that has occurred in my professional life this might convey some idea of how much I appreciate what you have done. I hope it gives you some satisfaction to know that your father, I feel sure, would be pleased with the first twenty-five years of the institution he established. You, more than anyone else, have made possible its growth and future development.”
Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, on view now, features several key works from the Mellon Family collection.
“I do not belong to any school, I simply want to do something that is personal to my self.” –Edouard Vuillard
Vuillard, who died on this day in 1940, is known for his intimate portrayals of interior life, which often feature women. This painting probably depicts the bedroom of the artist’s mother in the family apartment on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, where she and the artist lived between 1891 and 1896. On view in Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art.
Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940). The Yellow Curtain, c. 1893. Oil on canvas. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection. National Gallery of Art
You may remember that Argenteuil featured prominently in last summer’s special exhibition Impressionists on the Water, which is why we’re featuring Claude Monet’s depiction of the sea town, currently on view in Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, as today’s #throwbackthursday post.
Monet moved to Argenteuil in 1871. In this work, the artist alludes to the town’s dual industries of leisure and labor, depicting pleasure boats floating on the Seine while factory smokestacks rise in the distance. Above all, Monet revels in the afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees, which he paints in pink and yellow stripes across the shore.
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Argenteuil, ca. 1872. Oil on canvas. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection. National Gallery of Art. 1970.17.42
Argenteuil is one of the most frequently depicted locales in impressionist art. When Alfred Sisley visited Monet there in 1872, the two artists stood together to paint the boulevard Héloïse, one of the town’s main streets. Throughout the 1870s, the Impressionists often worked side by side, engaging in shared investigations of the world around them.
Now on view in Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art.
Alfred Sisley (French, 1839–1899). Boulevard Héloïse, Argenteuil, 1872. Oil on canvas. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, 1970.17.82. National Gallery of Art
Happy Father’s Day!
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Portrait of a Man, ca. 1864. Oil on canvas. Memorial gift from Dr. T. Edward and Tullah Hanley, Bradford, Pennsylvania. 69.30.43. Currently on view in Gallery 17.
Henri Matisse and the Bay Area have long enjoyed a special relationship that began in 1906, when local collectors Sarah and Michael Stein first brought Matisse paintings to San Francisco. The Steins influenced other local collectors, and as a result the city remains a major repository of the master’s works. In 1930, Matisse made his only visit to San Francisco, and when his train pulled into the station, he was greeted by a large, enthusiastic party.
Matisse from SFMOMA is on view now.
Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Portrait of Sarah Stein, 1916. Oil on canvas. Collection sfmoma, Sarah and Michael Stein Memorial Collection, gift of Elise S. Haas; © Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Ben Blackwell
Today is the first day of the World Cup soccer tournament! What team are you routing for?
Mark Adams (American, 1925–2006). Soccer Ball, 1983. Color aquatint. Gift of Phoebe Cowles. 1984.1.140
Today is the birthday of philanthropist and art collector Paul Mellon. Along with his father, Andrew W. Mellon, and sister, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Paul’s extensive collection of art comprised the initial holdings of the National Gallery of Art, including this prized self-portrait by Edgar Degas, currently on view.
A large majority of the special exhibition Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art is made up of works from the Mellon Family collection.
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917). Self-Portrait with White Collar. c. 1857. Oil on paper on canvas. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence." —Henri Matisse
At the age of 60, Henri Matisse embarked on a new form of creative production collaborating on a series of important artist books. For Matisse this endeavor consisted of carefully balancing text and illustration, and the artist often took months to prepare pictorial concepts. Seven of these rare masterpieces are now on view in Matisse and the Artist Book.
Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Untitled, pg. 8, in the book Poésies by Stéphane Mallarmé, 1932. Etching on wove paper specially made by Arches. The Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books. 2000.200.71.1