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Seascape

Edgar Degas
Seascape, circa 1869
Pastel on chamois paper, 12 3/8 x 18 1/2 in. (31.4 x 46.9 cm)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Bequest of the Baroness Eva Gebhard-Gougaud, 1965


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Exhibitions

The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874

October 10, 2009 through January 3, 2010

View video about exhibition

This exhibition advances a new argument for the origins of what was called “the new painting,” namely that a unique convergence of forces—social, artistic, technological, and commercial—along the Normandy coast of France dramatically transformed the course of photography and painting (as well as of the region itself). Within this framework, the invention of the camera and the development of early fine art photography in that particular setting will be seen as the specific catalysts that brought about a new approach to painting.

The project will showcase paintings, photographs, and drawings by some of the most treasured artists in the Western canon—Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet among them—as well as pioneering photographers such as Gustave Le Gray and Henri Le Secq. Inspired by the scenic Normandy coast of France, these works—including representations of beach scenes, seascapes, fishing villages, resorts, and the region’s pastoral beauty—will be brought together with archival materials related to early tourism and regional expressions of French nationalism from popular culture for an innovative examination of the impact of the then-new medium of photography on ideas of image making, the recording of passing time, the capacities of painting, and the rise of Impressionism itself.

Organized by UMMA, this exhibition is made possible in part by the Florence Gould Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Michigan Health System, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, the Center for European Studies-European Union Center, and Department of History of Art, Masco Corporation, Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the University of Michigan Credit Union, and the family of Dr. Raymond F. Cunningham in his memory. The Lens of Impressionism would not have been possible without the generosity and cooperation of the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF) and features exceptional loans from the BnF and the Musee d'Orsay. Following its showing in Ann Arbor, the exhibition will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art.