The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid hosts the exhibition “The Impressionists and Photography”

2019-09-17 320 Views
The exhibition examines the repercussions the invention of photography had on the development of the visual arts in the second half of the nineteenth century
It offers a critical reflection on the mutual influences between painting and photography, including the debate it sparked among critics and artists
It features 66 oil paintings and works on paper and more than 100 photographs


Among the paintings there are significant works by Manet from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; by Bazille from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris; by Monet from the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris and the Fondation Beyeler in Basel; and by Degas from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as well as from the private collections of Henry and Rose Pearlman, and Ann and Gordon Getty. 

Following the appearance of the first daguerreotypes in the late 1830s and, above all, the subsequent discovery of techniques for making photographic prints on paper, a very close relationship was established between photography and painting.

Furthermore, the artificial eye of the camera spurred the young Impressionists Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley, Claude and many others to devise a new way of looking at the world.

An interesting example of the interconnection between painting and photography is Édouard Manet, who was not particularly interested in painting outdoors, and his schematic landscape backgrounds are more similar to the decorative backdrops used in photographic portraits, such as those made fashionable by Olympe Aguado.

At the same time, photography gradually ceased to be regarded as a mere mechanical means of reproducing reality and slowly gained artistic credibility, partly thanks to Impressionism.

A few photographers became concerned with the materiality of their images and sought methods for making their photographs less precise and more painterly.

The nine sections into which the exhibition is divided (the forest, figures in the landscape, the water, in the countryside, the monuments, the city, the portrait, the body and the archive) allow us to appreciate the confluence of the interests of painters and photographers.


“The Impressionists and Photography” 15/10/2019 — 26/01/2020 (Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid)