In Seattle, It’s ‘Intimate Impressionism’

Back in July, A+A featured a post on Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). The show features 68 intimately scaled Impressionist and Post-Impressionist still lifes, portraits and landscapes by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas and van Gogh. It closes on Sunday, Jan. 10. – so if you’re in or near Seattle, don’t miss it:

It’s a traveling exhibition that explores the entire range of Impressionism.

And Seattle is its last stop.

“It’s a mini-history of Impressionism, from the beginning to Post Impressionism,” says Chiyo Ishikawa, who’s the Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at SAM.

Included are 71 still lifes, portraits and landscapes by the likes of Cezanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and van Gogh. Tiny in size compared to larger salon entries, they are paintings done for one another, for friends or to be exchanged as gifts.

“The smallest may be a little sketch by Seurat, smaller than a piece of paper, but some are 20 and 30 inches wide,” she says. “It’s just very intimate.”

Most are from the original collection by Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Paul Mellon’s sister, though some of his paintings bolster the exhibition. Both donated their collections to the National Gallery. “She was raised in the tradition of philanthropy,” she say.

They are primarily informal scenes from daily life, intimately scaled and meant to be shown in homes, rather than grand public places.

“There’s a Manet painting of the Monet family with chickens in their back yard and Renoir came and painted the same scene, and now that’s in the Metropolitan,” she says. “So what you’d have if you saw them side-by-side would be the same view with slightly different angles.”

All of Bruce’s paintings were selected because of her own personal taste. “She basically loved French Impressionism and wanted to surround herself with it, and bring light to wherever she was living,” she says.

For tickets, go to or call (206) 654-3121.

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