For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2009

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

October 10, 2009 through January 3, 2010

View video about exhibition

Download Normandy Gallery Guide (pdf 590kb)

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.


The Wave (La Vague)

Gustave Courbet
The Wave (La Vague), 1869
Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 45 7/8 in. (71.5 x 116.5 cm)
Musée Malraux, Le Havre

Bathing Time at Deauville

Eugène Boudin
Bathing Time at Deauville, 1865
Oil on wood, 13 11/16 x 22 5/8 inches (34.8 x 57.5 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (1983.1.8)

Fishing Boats at Low Tide (Dieppe, bateaux de pêche à sec)

Henri Le Secq, Dieppe
Fishing Boats at Low Tide (Dieppe, bateaux de pêche à sec), circa 1854
Modern salted paper print from original paper negative, 9 1/2 x 13 3/8 in. (24 x 34 cm)
Department of Prints and Photographs, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

The Brig (Le brick or Le brick au clair de lune)

Gustave Le Gray
The Brig (Le brick or Le brick au clair de lune), circa 1856
Albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative, 12 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (32 x 42 cm)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The Beach at Berck

Édouard Manet
The Beach at Berck, 1873
)il on canvas, 22 x 28 3/4 in. (56 x 73 cm)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford Connecticut, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund

Hôtel des Roches Noires, Trouville

Claude Monet
Hôtel des Roches Noires, Trouville, 1870
Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 23 in. (81 x 58.5 cm)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of Jacques Laroche, 1947

The French Fleet, Cherbourg (La flotte française, Cherbourg)

Gustave Le Gray
The French Fleet, Cherbourg (La flotte française, Cherbourg), 1858
Albumen print, 11 5/8 x 16 1/8 in. (30 x 41 cm)
Department of Prints and Photographs, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris


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

Sea and Rain

James McNeill Whistler
Sea and Rain, 1865
Oil on canvas, 30 x 39 x 2 9/16 in. (77.4 x 100.3 x 6.5 cm)
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1955/1.99

The Sea at Le Havre

Claude Monet
The Sea at Le Havre, 1868
Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 32 1/8 in. (60 x 81.6 cm)
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Purchase 53.22)

the Beach at Sainte-Adresse, View of the Cliffs (Plage de Sainte-Adresse, vue de la falaise)

Gustave Le Gray
The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, View of the Cliffs (Plage de Sainte-Adresse, vue de la falaise), 1856
Albumen print, 12 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (31 x 40 cm)
Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, Paris, on deposit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Troyes