French painting of the 19th to early 20th c is represented by approximately 850 items. Chronologically, this section begins with works by artists from the late 18th and early 19th c, whose contributions to the history of art vary enormously, but whose works embody the artistic aspirations of the age: Lethiere, Lefebre, Caraffe, C.Vernet, Girodet, P.Chauvin, artists who were very popular during the time of the Empire such as Guerin, F.Gerard and others.
Each of the most celebrated masters is represented here: David by his superb Sappho and Phaon (1809), Gros by Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcole (about 1797), Ingres by Portrait of Count Guriev (1821), Delacroix, the most brilliant of French Romantic artists, by two canvases: Moroccan Saddling a Horse (1855) and Lion Hunt in Morocco (1854).
The Hermitage collection provides a good overview of the Barbizon School, a group of artists who settled in the village of Barbizon near Paris: Theodore Rousseau, Dupre, Daubigny and others, who were to have such a major influence on the development of French landscape painting, and Corot, whose works contain a peculiar combination of Neoclassicism, Realism and Romanticism. One of the focal points of the museum is the collection of late 19th and early 20th century works, which includes over 250 works.
It contains seven works by one of the founders of Impressionism, Claude Monet, enabling us to judge not only his creative work, but also the evolution of the school overall: from his early Lady in a Garden (1867) to the late Waterloo Bridge (1903). There are six paintings by Renoir, including his notable Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary (1878); two Paris scenes by Pissaro; three landscapes by Sisley; and a series of pastel drawings by Degas.
The works by Cezanne, Gauguin and van Gogh are of the highest quality. Cezanne worked in different genres, as can be seen by the selection of his paintings on display. Gauguin's oeuvre is here represented by works painted during his life in Tahiti. Among van Gogh's paintings are The Lilac Bush (1889), one of his greatest achivements, and Thatched Cottages (1890), among his last works.
Carriere, Puvis de Chavannes, Odilon Redon and others are among the leading Symbolist artists whose work can be seen on display. With works by the Nabis group - Denis, Roussel, Vuillard, Bonnard, Vallotton - as well as Marquet, Derain, van Dongen, Vlaminck and Manguin, the Hermitage exhibition provides a comprehensive view of the development of French painting at the time.
The culmination of the collection of French 20th-century painting comes with the superb display of works by Matisse and Picasso. With 37 paintings by Matisse, including such notable canvases as The Red Room (1908), Family Portrait (1911), and the important panels Dance and Music (both 1910), and 31 paintings by Picasso, from the early The Absinthe Drinker (1901), a major work from his Blue Period - The Visit (1902), to works vital to the understanding of Cubism - Dance with Veils (1907), Three Women, Woman with a Fan (1908) - these rooms are rightly amongst the most popular in the museum.
A Game of Billiards
Portrait of Count N.D.Guriev
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