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Monet to Matisse: French Moderns

Jun 8, 2024 - Sep 15, 2024
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
Included with general admission
General Accessibility


Coming to the Portland Art Museum this summer from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned European art collection, Monet to Matisse: French Moderns showcases approximately 60 works of art considered to be modernist masterpieces. Focusing on France as the artistic center of international modernism from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, the exhibition features paintings and sculpture ranging widely in scale, subject matter, and style. Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism are all explored in the work of Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and many others. Monet to Matisse: French Moderns is organized by Lisa Small, Senior Curator of European Art, and Richard Aste, former Curator of European Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Monet’s Rising Tide at Pourville and Auguste Rodin’s Age of Bronze rank among the major masterpieces by these favorite artists, but this selection will also introduce our visitors to lesser-known innovative artists like the Hungarian painter József Rippl-Rónai and the influential academic artist Jehan Georges Vibert. 

Bronze sculpture of a naked man with one arm resting on his head
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917).The Age of Bronze, medium-sized model, first reduction, 1876; cast 1967. Bronze,41 ¼ x 15 x 13 in. (104.8 x 38.1 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum,Gift of B. Gerald Cantor, 68.49. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

The Portland Art Museum’s presentation of Monet to Matisse: French Moderns is curated by Lloyd DeWitt, who started in February as the Museum’s new Richard and Janet Geary Curator of European & American Art Pre-1930. “I’m delighted that we are able to bring the highlights of Brooklyn’s exceptional collection to Portland and share these masterpieces, which resonate strongly with Portland’s own excellent selection of French Moderns,” DeWitt said.

Impressionist painting of an apple tree
Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894). Apple Tree in Bloom, 1885. Oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 23 5/8 in. (73.3 x 60 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of William K. Jacobs, Jr., 1992.107.2. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum).

The exhibition is organized by subject matter, with the first of the four sections, Landscape, featuring Monet’s Houses of Parliament, Renoir’s Vineyards at Cagnes, Gustave Caillebotte’s Apple Tree in Bloom, and other paintings spanning a century of innovation. The Impressionist revolution is also represented by the works of Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro as well as Berthe Morisot, whose Portrait of Mme. Boursier and Her Daughter anchors the second section, Portraits and Models, focussing on the human figure. Grand portraits by Giovanni Boldini and Kees van Dongen highlight this section, which also includes a cast of Rodin’s renowned Balzac in a Monk’s Habit. Still Lifes by Chaim Soutine, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and others form the third section, leading to the final group focussed on the Nude. Rodin’s first masterpiece, Age of Bronze, is joined by works by Degas and Fernand Léger that span nearly the entire century represented by the scope of the exhibition, from the 1848 revolutions to the end of the second World War, from Jean-Francois Millet’s realism to Alexander Archipenko’s abstraction. 

Painting of a woman holding a child on her lap
Berthe Morisot (French, 1841–1895). Madame Boursier and Her Daughter, circa 1873. Oil on canvas, 29 5/16 x 22 3/8 in. (74.5 x 56.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 29.30. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Many of the works in the exhibition will bring to light the stories of the dealers, patrons, and New York collectors who helped make the Brooklyn Museum’s collection one of the nation’s finest. “By attuning themselves to the avant-garde French art world, Brooklyn collectors signaled that their borough was modern and forward-looking compared to Manhattan,” DeWitt said. “Brooklyn’s collection was later enriched with gifts by successful Brooklynites like Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Kantor, who had been educated in art by that same modern collection.”

While the Portland Art Museum’s permanent collections are largely off view during its campus transformation now underway, visitors can see a number of PAM’s own French modern treasures in the collaboratively curated exhibition Throughlines: Connections in the Collection (reopening June 13), including paintings by artists in French Moderns including Monet, Renoir, and Édouard Vuillard. 

This summer and beyond, our community will also be invited to follow the restoration of Claude Monet’s Waterlilies (1914-15),  the cornerstone of the Portland Art Museum’s strong Impressionist collection, in a series of videos and programs as PAM conservator Charlotte Ameringer leads a conservation project focused on removing a non-original synthetic varnish and returning Monet’s masterpiece to the appearance the artist intended. The restoration and programs are supported by a generous grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

Still life painting of a tea cup and saucer, two oranges, and three green figs on a white tablecloth
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Still Life with Blue Cup, circa 1900. Oil on canvas, 6 x 13 1/8 in. (15.2 x 33.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, 67.24.19. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Monet to Matisse: French Moderns will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue, available in the Museum Store. Public programs will include an opening talk by Nicole Myers, Chief Curatorial and Research Officer at the Dallas Art Museum, who will deliver this year’s Lucy M. and John E.  Buchanan, Jr.  Lecture.

Monet to Matisse: French Moderns is organized by Lisa Small, Senior Curator of European Art, and Richard Aste, former Curator of European Art, Brooklyn Museum and curated for Portland by Lloyd DeWitt, The Richard and Janet Geary Curator of European & American Art Pre-1930. Lead support for the exhibition provided by the Flowerree Foundation, Laura S. and Roger S. Meier Endowment for European Art, the Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art Endowment Fund, and Exhibition Series Sponsors.