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True to Nature exhibition

Take a virtual tour of True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780-1870 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, coming to The Fitzwilliam Museum summer 2021.

True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780-1870, opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington on 3 February 2020. It is the result of a three-year collaboration between the gallery, the Fondation Custodia in Paris and the Fitzwilliam, and was co-curated by all three institutions. The exhibition features around one hundred and twenty landscape oil sketches by a wide range of European painters; many come from a private collection, and will be seen in this exhibition for the first time.

In these beautifully painted, intimate, glimpses of nature we encounter the landscape at first hand, unmediated by careful preparation in the studio. We share the thrill these artists experienced when coming across storm-tossed seas, strange rock formations, fleeting effects of atmosphere and light and the saturated stillness of leafy forest interiors, feeling compelled to record them quickly in paint before the impression faded. Organised in part geographically, the exhibition focuses on the regions of Italy that most inspired artists from all over Europe – Rome and the Roman campagna, Naples and Capri – but also explores these artists responses to natural phenomena – rocks, skies and ‘effects’, sea and coastlines, volcanoes and trees.  It includes works by celebrated artists such as Corot, Constable, Turner, Holman Hunt, Degas and Redon, but also introduces less familiar talents, many from northern climes – Anton Sminck Pitloo, Johann Jacob Frey, Vilhelm Kyhn and Louise Sarasin de Belmont, to name just a few.

At the Fitzwilliam, the exhibition will respond to the museum’s annual theme Whose Truth? (Sept 20 – Aug 21) by examining what it means for art to be ’ true to nature’. What truths can a painting tell us about nature that a geographer, a volcanologist, a mineralogist or plant anatomist can’t, and vice versa?  The outcome of exciting collaborations across Cambridge University on the subject of trees, in particular, will be presented to the public in the exhibition galleries: much of the imagery is guaranteed to amaze!  

A visual delight
The New Criterion


...for all its quietude, the show is radical. And so intensely beautiful. You walk in and . . . wow! If you have any capacity for feeling, you gasp.
The Washington Post


Jane Munro

> Listen to Jane Munro, Co-curator of the exhibition True to Nature, talk about the organisation of the show and the importance of trees.



Posted on : 
Wednesday 29 April 2020