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November Issue 2003

Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC, Features European Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum

Pharaoh returns a favor. When the Mint Museum of Art hosted the exhibition Ramesses the Great: The Pharaoh and His Time in 1988, so much display space was required that its European and American paintings were loaned to Florida and Tennessee museums to convert galleries to a temporary home for the ancient Egyptian king. The Walters Art Museum came to the same solution for its stellar collection of European paintings and sculptures while it hosts Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum this fall. Great news for art lovers in the Carolinas!

Raphael to Monet: European Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, will be on display through Jan. 11, 2004, at Charlotte, NC's Mint Museum of Art, it is a rare opportunity to enjoy magnificent artworks from many of European art history's greatest talent spanning five centuries. Few collections are the equal of the 22,000 works of art assembled over decades by father and son railroad tycoons William and Henry Walters. Henry Walters magnanimously gave the collection to the mayor and city council of Baltimore in 1931 "for the benefit of the public".

"The selective eye and diverse interests of both Walters combined to form one of America's great private art collections," stated Mint Chief Curator Charles L. Mo.

The exhibition's title reference, Raphael to Monet, connects the two greatest art periods of Europe, the Renaissance and Impressionism, while the exhibition threads through many other major art movements and artists in between.

Hailed by art historians as the last great painter of the High Renaissance, Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) was called "the prince of painters" while living in Rome. His funeral mass (he died on his 37th birthday) was celebrated at the Vatican where he was a favorite of the pope (ironically, Raphael was an atheist). His body is buried in the Pantheon, reserved for Rome's greatest heroes. The litany of great artists citing Raphael's work as their inspiration for its clarity of form, idealized beauty and for a visual achievement in depicting human grandeur includes Carravaggio, Reni, Reubens, Delacroix, Ingres and many more. The serene Madonna of the Candelabra, c.1513-14 on display was the first of the Raphael Madonna paintings to enter an American collection when Henry Walters acquired it in 1900.

Highlights from Raphael to Monet include Guido Reni's The Penitent Magdalene, c.1635 and Anthony Van Dyck's Virgin and Child, representative of the Flemish artist's finest period of religious paintings in the 1630s. Giovanni Paolo Panini earned fame from his broad cityscapes as illustrated in View of the Roman Forum, 1747. Another famous view painter of the 18th century was Francesco Guardi. Venetian Courtyard, c.1770-1790, illustrates his use of color and brushstrokes valued later by the Impressionists.

Raphael himself will make a figurative appearance at the Mint Museum of Art through Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' The Betrothal of Raphael and the Niece of Cardinal Bibbiena, 1813. Ingres idolized Raphael, creating a series of works dealing with his life. Cardinal Dovizi il Bibbiena offered his niece's hand in marriage to Raphael, but she died before the wedding could take place.

The cream of the Walters Art Museum collection is its l9th century French paintings. France was the birthplace of possibility in 1800 with the aristocracy vanquished, Napoleon at the political helm and the modern era at dawn. It was a magnificent century of vision in which Paris was the center of the art world.

Most major artistic trends of the period in France are represented in Raphael to Monet. Academic Neoclassism is illustrated by its foremost exponent Ingres and Jean Leon Gérôme's The Death of Caesar, 1859. Romanticism is in evidence by Eugene Delacroix's Christ on the Sea of Galilee, 1854 and Collision of Moorish Horseman, 1843-44. Examples of the realism of the Barbizon School can be found in Jean-Baptiste Camille-Corot's Two Italian Peasants, 1843, Jules-Louis Dupré's A Bright Day, 1835-40 and Jean-François Millet's The Potato Harvest, 1855 depicting the French peasants' seemingly endless struggle for survival. Georges Clairin's Entering the Harem, ca. 1870s, reflects the Orientalist style popular during the expansion of empire.

Oscar-Claude Monet

And then there are the Impressionist paintings among the Walters Collection. The first use of the term "impressionism" was as a derisive comment by several critics of a 1874 Paris exhibition in which Oscar-Claude Monet's Impression: Sunrise represented the shocking loose brushwork and spontaneous characteristics of the artwork on display. Later, it came to represent the most significant art movement of the later 19th century. An innovator and an unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style, Monet is perhaps the most recognized artist of his time. His exquisite Springtime, on display in the exhibition, captures his first wife Camille seated reading a book on the grass beneath lilac bushes in their garden at Argenteuil. Monet's seven years at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, produced some of the most joyous and famous works of the Impressionist movement as friends Manet, Renoir and Sisley joined him there.

Edouard Manet

Many shared Monet's contribution to the development of modern painting. Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre remained an academic traditionalist, but encouraged his students - Gérôme, Monet, Sisley, Renoir and American expatriate James McNeil Whistler - to pursue their own outlets. Edouard Manet was a pioneering realist, emphasizing contemporary life and capturing the immediacy of the moment. One of his masterpieces, At the Café, 1879 will be on display at Raphael to Monet in Charlotte.


So will luscious paintings by Pissarro, Sisley and Degas. Sculptures include work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (also buried in Rome's Pantheon), Jean-Antoine Houdon, Antoine-Louis Barye, Honoré Daumier and Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier.

Several public programs have been scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition, Raphael to Monet: European Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. They are as follows:

Sun., Nov. 2, 2003, 2-4pm - Salon Conversations. Join Charlotte artists, writers, and scientists for a wine reception and gallery discussion of the masterpieces in the exhibition. Free with museum admission.

Tues., 6:30-8:30pm - Drawing Classes - Nov. 4, 2003 - The Eye & the Hand (ages 16 and up). Concentrate on developing skill with pencil and watercolor. Participants will explore techniques used in preparatory drawings by artists in the exhibition. Nov. 18, 2003 - You Figure It (Age 18 and up). This life drawing class will explore figurative styles represented in the exhibition. Tuition for each class: $15 member, $20 non-member. Pre-registration is required by calling 704/337-2098.

Sun., Nov. 9, 2003, 3pm - Chamber Concert with Members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Charlotte Symphony musicians will complement the exhibition with period music from the Renaissance to the Impressionists. Free with museum admission.

Tue., Dec. 9, 2003, 12-12:30pm - Visually Speaking - Informal Gallery Talk. Jill Shuford, School Programs Coordinator, will talk about her favorite work in the exhibition. Free with museum admission.

Nov. & Dec., 2003 - Special Tours - Masterpieces of Religious Art Tour. Thematic tours incorporate examples in the exhibition and in the Mint's collection. For reservations call 704-337-2043.

Thurs., Nov. 6 & Dec. 4, 2003 - Monthly Senior Day Tours - Walking Tour (10:30-11:30am) and Seated Tour & Refreshments (2-3:30pm). Wonder at the works of some of the great European artists of the 16th through the 19th centuries, including Raphael, Van Dyck, Bernini, Manet, Monet and Degas. Special admission: $4 (62+) Reservations required by calling 704/337-2043.

Sats., 10am-noon - Family Workshops (ages 6-12). These workshops provide hands-on art activities for the whole family's enjoyment. Dec. 13, 2003 -Madonna in the Round. Meet Raphael and make your own tondo (Italian for circular design) Christmas card. Tuition for each class: $10 member, $15 non-member per child. Pre-registration is required by calling 704-337-2098.

Tues., 4:30-6 pm - After School and Home School Classes (ages 9-12). Nov. 11, 2003 - Horsing Around. After looking at the work of Degas and Delacroix, participants will create their own painting of horse and rider. Dec. 2, 2003 - A Cloudy Day. Before the days of television and weathermen, artists described most accurately the effects of wind and weather. Come and explore works by Pissarro and Monet, and then create your own dramatic skyscapes. Tuition for each class: $10 member, $15 non-member. Pre-registration is required by calling 704/337-2098.

Weds., 10-11:3am, repeated 2-3:30pm - Adult/Child Workshops (ages 3-5 accompanied by an adult). Nov. 12, 2003 - In the Gallery with Monet. Use dabs of paint and sunny colors to bring the Impressionist master to life. Dec. 10, 2003 - Mother and Child. Create your own image like Raphael's, set in a round, gold textured frame. Tuition for each class: $10 member, $15 non-member per child. Pre-registration is required by calling 704/337-2098.

Sun., Nov. 16, 2003, 1-4 pm - Family Day. Make Monet water lilies and float them in the fountain, or make a heat transfer Impressionist painting, and take pictures of the family in master painting tableaux. Families will enjoy period music and performances, painting demonstrations, and more. Special admission price for non-member families of four: $10.

For more information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the museum at 704/337-2000, or on the web at (www.mintmuseum.org).

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