Before Impressionism, 19th Century Art at the Dallas Museum of Art

The Dallas Museum of Art will present paintings, works on paper, and sculptures from the Museum’s collections in Before Impressionism: French 19th-Century Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition, installed in the Focus Gallery and Museum Concourse, opens Aug. 27 and will be on view through Jan. 2, 2005.

Before Impressionism is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art in conjunction with a major exhibition opening Oct. 17, Masterworks of French Painting, “Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!”: The Bruyas Collection of the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, which features works by Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Eugéne Delacroix, Jean-Léon Gérome, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, as well as drawings and sculptures by Antoine-Louis Barye and others from the generation that preceded the impressionist movement.

Before Impressionism consists of two installations: nearly 30 works on paper in the Concourse and 14 paintings and sculptures in the Focus Gallery. Many of these mid-19th-century romantic, naturalist, and realist artists are also featured in the Masterworks of French Painting, “Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!” exhibition  Representing the romantic movement are works by Delacroix and Charles Meryon, as well as sensuous and realist bronze sculptures by Barye. Artists from the Barbizon school include Théodore Rousseau, Charles Daubigny, and Jean-Francois Millet. Artists such as Edouard Manet represent the leap into the modern era in art.

Several of the works on paper are particularly noteworthy. A unique pencil drawing by Delacroix (a study for the Justice of Trajan); a page from a catalogue of the Bruyas Collection that was illustrated by Jules Laurens showing a landscape by Rousseau, the original of which will be on display in Masterworks of French Painting, “Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!”; a work by Corot in cliché verre (an image etched on smoke-covered glass and exposed in sunlight on photosensitive paper); and Portrait of Baudelaire by Manet, which complements a painting of the same subject by Courbet in “Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!”

Fox in the Snow is a superb example of Courbet’s realist paintings, and Rousseau’s exquisite The Charcoal Burner’s Hut is a sublime landscape painted by one of the artists living in the village of Barbizon on the edge of the Fontainebleau Forest.

Before Impressionism presents the richness and diversity of French art in the decades leading up to impressionism, one of the most fertile periods in the history of French art. The vibrancy of the era is reflected in the format of the labels used throughout the exhibition, which feature the words of the artists themselves, as well as the voices of critics, writers, and collectors of the 19th century, revealing what was controversial, admired, or despised at the moment of the art’s creation. Both exhibitions reveal much about the taste of the times—what was in fashion or what was shockingly new—as well as the art that has endured for more than 150 years.

Before Impressionism was organized from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art by Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, with assistance from Lora Sariaslan, The McDermott Curatorial Assistant, and Carl Wuellner, Assistant Curator of European Art.