In the Open Air
In the Open Air
Rosa Bonheur and the Bühler-Brockhaus Collection in a New Light
15/09/2022 — 07/05/2023
On the occasion of the new presentation of the Bühler-Brockhaus Collection and the 200th birthday of the artist Rosa Bonheur, the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig is exhibiting a selection of early Impressionist works. The cabinet exhibition draws connections between representatives of the "Barbizon School” and French, German and American painting and graphic art of the 19th and 20th centuries. There is no mistaking how both the German and the American painters were influenced by French examples. The exhibition brings together masterpieces by Rosa Bonheur, Claude Monet, Théodore Rousseau, and others from the Bühler-Brockhaus Collection, with loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Bremer Kunsthalle and the Nordfriesland Museum Nissenhaus, along with paintings and drawings from the MdbK’s own collection.
To mark the opening of the new museum building in 2004, the collector couple Dr Hans-Peter Bühler and Marion Bühler-Brockhaus donated an extensive collection of French art from the 19th century to the MdbK. The 41 important works of art of the donation – paintings, sculptures and drawings – show the development from Realism to open-air painting, and from the "Barbizon School" to Impressionism. In the years after 2004, the couple repeatedly expanded the donation – with works, for example, by Max Liebermann, Gustave Loiseau and Louis Valtat.
In the first half of the 19th century, numerous artists settled in the village of Barbizon near the forest of Fontainebleau, not far from the metropolis of Paris. It was here that arose the novel concept of a "paysage intime", which based itself on direct observation of nature. With its sensitivity to colour and light moods in nature and its loose, free style, this painting is considered a precursor of Impressionism. Even beyond France, painting outdoors, "plein air", was a crucial innovation in 19th-century art and led to a new vibrancy in colours and spontaneity in the brushstroke. One can sense in the works of the exhibition the triumph of landscape painting as a modern and popular genre, along with the increasing formal freedom of the painters in their selection and execution of motifs.
Increasingly, women painters were able to assert themselves on the art market, albeit under more difficult conditions than their male competitors experienced. An example is the international success of the artist Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899), whose paintings caused a sensation not only in Paris but also in the USA. Today she is considered one of the most important French painters of the 19th century. Already as a 19-year-old, Rosa Bonheur caused a stir in the Salon in Paris with her naturalistic paintings of animals. She sought to reproduce not only the physiognomic appearance of the animals but also their character. For her paintings, Bonheur undertook trips to the Pyrenees and to Scotland, and she regularly visited animal parks, horse fairs and slaughterhouses. In 1853 she created “The Horse Fair” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Measuring 2.45 m x 5.06 m, it was at the time probably the largest picture ever painted by a woman. The preliminary study for this monumental painting can be seen in the exhibition in the MdbK.
Thanks to support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, the works of William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) and Willard Metcalf (1858–1925), representing two important positions of 19th-century American painting influenced by Impressionism, can be seen in the exhibition for the first time.
Su, 4 December, 11 am
guided tour through the exhibition with Jan Nicolaisen
Sa/Su, 2-5 pm
talk in the exhibition
Please check our calendar for more.