Highlights of the exhibition

Edmond-Georges Grandjean (1844–1908), View of the Champs-Élysées from the Place de l'Étoile in Paris [L’avenue des Champs- Élysées, vue de la place de l’ Étoile], 1878. Oil on canvas, 85.5 х 136.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The painter Edmond Grandjean specialised in scenes of Paris which he reproduced in minute detail. This painting features a strong perspective and a striking effect of moving figures in an apparently photographic rendering of the scene. At the time of painting the Impressionists had already held their third exhibition and were presenting themselves as a group. However, Grandjean was little influenced by the new movement and continued to paint in a traditional fashion, with an eye for the tiniest detail. The painting was probably exhibited at the Salon of 1878.

Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), Place du Théâtre Français, Paris [Place du Théâtre Français], 1898. Oil on canvas, 65.5 x 81.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Impressionist Pissarro painted this square from his window on the second floor of the Hôtel du Louvre. The bustle in and around the omnibuses sets the mood, together with the spring greenery and sunlight. The painting is Pissarro’s final work in his cycle of views of Place du Théâtre Français (now Place André Malraux) and Avenue de l’Opéra. On 15 December 1897 Pissarro wrote to his son Lucien: ‘It is perhaps not terribly aesthetic, but I am delighted that I can attempt to paint these Paris streets, which people usually say are ugly, whilst they are so silvery and so vibrant and radiate such a light. This is something quite different from the boulevards: this is totally modern!!!’ Gallery owner Paul Durand-Ruel included the work in Pissarro’s one-man show in June 1898.

Carolus-Duran (Émile Auguste Charles Durand, 1837–1917), Portrait of Princess Anna A. Obolenskaya [Portrait de la princesse Obolenskaya], 1887. Oil on canvas, 120 х 77.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Carolus-Duran won many medals at Paris Salons with his portraits of the beau monde. He was a friend of Manet, whose influence became increasingly evident in his work. Although this painting seems a traditional portrait, the way in which Anna Obolenskaya holds the rose is somewhat informal, while the flower is Impressionist in style. By incorporating innovations in his work without abandoning academicism, Carolus-Duran managed to keep his buying public.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary [Portrait de Mlle Jeanne Samary], 1878. Oil on canvas, 174 x 101.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Jeanne Samary was an actress at the Comédie Française. Renoir painted her in theatrical surroundings, thereby observing the Impressionist principle of depicting real life. Although the portrait appears unposed, it is more official and academic in style than Renoir’s other work. At the time of painting he was seeking recognition in order to end his money worries. But the canvas brought him no success at the 1879 Salon, as it was still too far removed from the art espoused by the French Académie.

Claude Monet (1840–1926), Woman in a Garden [Dame au jardin], 1867. Oil on canvas, 82.3 x 101.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Claude Monet was not interested in painting charming scenes. His intention in this picture was to capture the effect of the summer light, even in the shadows. The artist placed his easel exactly in front of the flower bed’s centre, in order to effectively reproduce the contrast between the complementary colours red and green. The woman’s role in the composition is to serve as a light colour accent in the surrounding green. She thus represents the essence of Impressionist painting: the search for relations between colour, light and shadow in the open air.

Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), Lion Hunt in Morocco [Chasse aux lions au Maroc], 1854. Oil on canvas, 74 x 92 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

This is a study for a government commission for the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Delacroix based the work on his memories of a trip to Morocco in 1832. These twenty-year-old impressions and his study of Rubens’ hunting scenes were as important to the painter as observations of French nature. His energetic brushstrokes, complementary colours – red/green and blue/orange – and powerful light and dark contrasts are features of dramatic Romantic painting. It was this colourful treatment of subjects that inspired the Impressionists.

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Smoker [Le fumeur], c. 1890–92. Oil on canvas, 92.5 x 73.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The smoker revisits a theme often depicted by seventeenth-century Dutch genre painters. Cézanne has stripped this painting of any kind of narrative element. There is no trace of expression on the man’s face and he appears completely withdrawn. This is effect is strengthened by the lack of detail in his eyes which are simply dark sockets.

Henri Moret (1856–1913), Port-Manech, 1896. Oil on canvas, 60,5 x 73,5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

This small harbour on the south coast of Brittany accommodated Gauguin and several artist friends for a time. They were attracted to the then unknown coastal village by the unspoilt beauty of its scenery. From 1895 gallery owner Paul Durand-Ruel regularly bought work from Moret, enabling the painter to live life as he wished. Moret settled in Brittany, travelled around the region, sailed a great deal and painted the Brittany coast.

Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), Eü haere ia oe (Where Are You Going?). Woman Holding a Fruit [Eü haere ia oe (Où vas-tu?). La femme au fruit], 1893. Oil on canvas, 92.5 x 73.5 cm
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

This painting is entitled Where are you going?, both a Tahitian greeting and a theme in Gauguin’s life. His preoccupation with such important life questions is evident in the title of other paintings by Gauguin, for instance: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Gauguin translated the bright light and colours of Oceania into contrasting planes of colour. He is considered one of the post-Impressionists. His bold use of colour heralded the emergence of Fauvism and Expressionism.

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Janiek Dam

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