French Impressionists: Painting at the Seaside with Dr. Alison Bracker

French Impressionists: Painting at the Seaside with Dr. Alison Bracker


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

The opening of train lines from Paris to France's northern coastal villages from the late 1840s to the 1860s gave rise to seaside vacations along the Channel. Fashionable Parisians, including Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie, frequented seaside resorts to bathe in the therapeutic saltwater, turning them into "the summer boulevard of Paris." Accordingly, many French painters moved away from depicting stormy maritime scenes, fishermen, and local peasant women to capturing the new breed of bathers flocking to the healing waters of such places as Trouville, Sainte-Adresse, Argenteuil, Berck, and Étretat. 

This seminar traces the 19th-century French craze for summer beach holidays from early to late Impressionism. Eugène Boudin, whose paintings of the summer season were described in 1867 as "the first to have captured and preserved for us this piquant aspect of modern life," introduces us to Trouville. Other artists, including Edouard Manet, reveal the changes that tourism brought to coastal towns and contrast the worlds of resident fisherpeople and holidaymakers. Claude Monet highlights aspects of modernity in his paintings of Sainte-Adresse and Trouville, while Gustave Caillebotte portrays the commodification of Villers-sur-mer. 

Led by Dr. Alison Bracker, an expert on modern and contemporary art history, this Conversation takes us back to 19th-century coastal Normandy to see how the Impressionists perceived its transformation over the decades. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of tourism's rise along the Channel coast and what the Impressionists gained from painting burgeoning seaside resorts and their fashionable visitors. 

Dr. Alison Bracker is an independent art historian specializing in the conservation of unusual materials in contemporary art. She co-edited Conservation: Principles, Dilemmas, and Uncomfortable Truths (Elsevier, 2009), praised as "one of the most significant books in the field of heritage conservation." Additionally, she has interviewed over 100 artists, curators, museum directors, and conservators about the ethics and issues arising from contemporary art conservation. Dr. Bracker also lectures and publishes on modern and contemporary artists more broadly, including Hugo Wilson, Lenz Geerk, Ai Weiwei, Anselm Kiefer, Édouard Manet, and David Hockney. Having spent her childhood in Los Angeles, she lived and worked in England for 25 years before settling in Nice, France.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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