Mississippi Museum of Art presents “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts”
The Mississippi Museum of Art is presenting a special exhibition of 74 masterworks by seminal French artists of the 19th and 20th centuries including Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, and Vincent van Gogh.
On view from April 4 through September 27, 2020, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts showcases major schools of French art including Romanticism, Impressionism, and Cubism spanning 150 years. An exceptional selection of work by modern French masters—among the most celebrated and recognized of the Western canon—the exhibition also reveals the connoisseurship of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, among the most philanthropic art collecting couples of the last century. The Mellons’ personal interests, commitment to modernism, and prescient collecting strategies are evident in the grouping.
Roger Ward, PhD, the Museum’s Deputy Director of Art and Programs, said, “This is the first traveling exhibition of the Mellon Collection since Mrs. Mellon’s bequest to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2014. Included are works by all the best-known artists, both French and Dutch, of the late 19th century who abandoned the official methods of the French Academy and forged a new way of painting that came to be called Impressionism. We are thrilled by the opportunity to share these masterpieces with Jackson and our visitors from around the world.”
Organized thematically, the exhibition opens with equestrian paintings by Degas, Eugene Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault followed by human figures and portraits by Gustave Courbet, Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and others depicted in informal settings. The next section features views of Paris (a frequent destination for the Mellons and members of their social milieu) and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist urban city-scapes by Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Utrillo, and Van Gogh. A grouping of paintings featuring water demonstrates some Impressionists’ skill at imitating a variety of fluid surfaces. A selection of paintings of the French countryside features Monet’s vibrant Field of Poppies, Giverny and smaller canvases by Georges Seurat and Van Gogh, among others.
The final section contains large, iconic paintings that stand apart from the more intimate sensibility of many of the other works in the collection. Among the masterpieces on view are Rousseau’s tour de force Tropical Landscape (1910), Bonnard’s Post-Impressionist The Dining Room (ca. 1940-47), and Picasso’s Cubist still life The Chinese Chest of Drawers (1953), the latest work in the exhibition.
The MMA is the final venue for this traveling exhibition before the collection is reinstalled in Virginia in October 2020.
This exhibition is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Its presentation in Jackson, MS, is sponsored by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. VMFA published a catalogue to accompany the traveling exhibition which will be available for sale in the Museum’s store.
While entrance to the Museum is free, there will be an admission charge for Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: $15 per person; $13 advance purchase until April 3, 2020; $13 for seniors and groups of ten or more; $10 for college students with school ID. Free for Museum Members, children 5 and under, and K-12 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays thanks to Feild Co-operative Associations, Inc., and BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi.
About the Mellons
Paul Mellon (1907-1999) was the son of industrialist, financier, and government official Andrew W. Mellon (1855-1937), himself a distinguished art collector of Old Master paintings and philanthropist. Andrew Mellon was instrumental in the creation of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Over the years, Paul Mellon donated more than a thousand works from his father’s collection and his own to the National Gallery. His appreciation for English culture is reflected in his expansive collection of British art which he later donated to the Yale Center for British Art that was established by this gift.
Bunny Mellon (1910-2014) was an art connoisseur, horticulturalist, and a devoted Francophile. After the Mellons married in 1948, they began to acquire French art from the 19th and 20th centuries. While many were given or bequeathed to the National Gallery, the Mellons donated selections from the French collection to the VMFA along with major gifts of British and American art. Many of the works on view were ones they lived with over decades before gifting them to the VMFA where Paul had been a longtime trustee and Bunny a supporter.
About the Mississippi Museum of Art
The Mississippi Museum of Art, in Jackson, is the largest art museum in the state. The Mississippi Art Association, established in 1911, was the precursor to the current Museum, founded in 1978 as a community-supported institution. The Museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, photography, multimedia works, and sculpture by Mississippi, American, and international artists. The Museum offers year-round educational programs for both children and adults. The Museum has 31 affiliate sites across the state that benefit from the loan of artworks and traveling exhibitions organized by the Museum, ensuring that those who cannot visit Jackson can still enjoy the state’s rich cultural history. The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are sponsored in part by the City of Jackson and Visit Jackson. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Museum is located at 380 South Lamar Street in downtown Jackson. msmuseumart.org