Exhibit Information

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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ROOMS WITH A VIEW:

Opening: 5 APRIL 2011 - Closing: 4 JULY 2011

The Open-Window in the 19th-Century


This is a very unusual exhibition for the Met Museum & one that is almost Jewel-Like in the glowing colors that flood into the often darker Parlors & Artists’ Studios of Biedermeier Europe.

 

It would be almost Visually-Overwhelming to have an Entire-Wall hung with these intriguing paintings: A Thousand-Points-of-Light

 

Actually, there are only 57 Open-Window-Images in this show.

 

But, as the idea of painting the View of Paris, Naples, Rome, or even Schloss Pillnitz from one’s window greatly appealed to painters of the Romantic-Era, there must be many more of these paintings Out-There.

 

On a very cold day, the Bay of Naples might have looked a bit Windy, so why not stay safely & warmly inside to paint? Plein-aire for another day…

 

Open-Window paintings—commissioned by Wealthy-Burghers—not only celebrated the Views from their handsome Villas but also offered the opportunity to show-off their handsome Furnishings & Objects-d’Art.

 

Even better if the artist could include the entire family, handsomely dressed, looking out their floor-to-ceiling Windows.

 

Or the Artist could paint Himself at his Easel, working on another Masterpiece!

 

But let’s let the Met Press-Release disclose the High-Points, especially concerning that Very-Important German-Romantic Artist, Caspar David Friedrich. Not to overlook Adolph Menzel!

 

During the Cold-War, Friedrich was not so well known in the West, as most of his Signature-Canvases were behind the Iron-Curtain, in the Deutsche-Demokratische-Republik.

 

Here we go—with some Editorial-Emendations:

 

"During the Romantic-Era, the Open-Window appeared either as the Sole-Subject or the Main-Feature in many pictures of Interiors that were filled with a Poetic-Play-of-Light & Perceptible-Silence.

 

"Rooms with a View is the first exhibition to focus on this Motif as captured by German, Danish, French, & Russian Artists, around 1810–20.

 

"Works range from the initial-appearance of the motif in two Sepia-Drawings of about 1805–06, by Caspar David Friedrich, to paintings of Luminous-Empty-Rooms from the late 1840s by Adolph Menzel.

 

"The show features 31 oil-paintings & 26 works-on-paper, consisting mostly of generous loans from museums in Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, Austria, Sweden, & the United-States.

 

"In 1805–06, the important German Romantic Artist Caspar David Friedrich [1774–1840] created two sepia-drawings that became Greatly-Influential, showing views outside the windows of his Studio in Dresden.

 

"In Friedrich’s treatment of the Open-Window, the Romantics recognized a Potent-Symbol for the experience of standing on the Threshold between an Interior & the Outside-World.

 

"The Motif’s juxtaposition of the Very-Close & the Far-Away became a Metaphor for Unfulfilled-Longing, a Sentiment first expressed by the Romantic-Poet Novalis [Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1772–1802], who wrote: "Everything at a distance turns into Poetry:  distant mountains, distant people, distant events: all become Romantic.

 

"Like Friedrich, other Romantic-Artists were drawn to the view from the window for its Symbolic-Power, & not simply for the beauty of the Landscape itself. For them, the Rectangular or Square shape of the canvas echoed perfectly the Window as a View-of-the-World.

 

"Rooms with a View features the two seminal Friedrich-Images—shown for the first time in this country—as well as works by some 40 other artists, including Carl Gustav Carus, Johan Christian Dahl, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Léon Cogniet, Wilhelm Bendz, & Adolph Menzel, among  others.

 

"Many of the artists are little-known on these Shores [the Coast of Long-Island?], their works unseen until now.

 

"The works in the exhibition are in distinct groupings: Austere Hushed Rooms, with Contemplative-Figures reading, sewing, or writing; Studios with Artists at work, & Windows as Sole-Motif.

 

"The Mood in these pictures can shift from Early-Romantic Severity to Biedermeier-Coziness, to Poetic-Realism, yet they all share a distinct-absence of the Anecdote & Narration that characterized earlier Genre-Painting.

 

"Rooms with a View begins with a Gallery of works depicting Rooms-with-Figures.

 

"The Vogue for pictures of Bare-Rooms that reflect their Sitters’ Frugal-Lifestyles coincides with the Napoleonic-Wars of 1803–15 & their Aftermath, when Daily-Life in both Germany & Denmark had turned grim.

 

"Ironically, this period coincided with the ‘Golden-Age’ of Danish-Painting, characterized by Visual-Poetry  in the works of Wilhelm Bendz [1804–1832] & Emil Bærentzen [1799–1868], who celebrated Modest-Family-Life & Gatherings.

 

"Similarly, none of the Upheaval of the time is reflected in the works of the German Artist Georg Friedrich Kersting [1785–1847], who countered Outward-Chaos with Idyllically-Ordered-Interiors.

 

"Artists’ Studios are featured in the next gallery. Depictions of Artists in their Studios have a long-tradition, especially in the Interiors of 17th-century Dutch Genre-Painting.

 

"In the earlier pictures, Windows are most often shown in an oblique, foreshortened-view, & as Sources-of-Light, without Views.

 

"By contrast, in the 19th-century pictures, Windows usually run parallel to the Picture-Plane, with Views seen through them.

 

"Rooms with a View concludes with a gallery of paintings of Open-Windows & Empty-Rooms.

 

"For artists, the enduring attraction of this Subject lies in its Purely-Visual-Appeal: echoing the rectangular or square shape of the Canvas, the Window-View turns into a Picture-within-a-Picture.

 

"Even a Barren-Landscape, when framed in a window, can be transformed into an Enthralling-Scene.

 

"Some artists recorded Actual-Sites—Copenhagen’s Harbor, the River-Elbe near Dresden, the Bay of Naples—while others invented, or even largely-blocked, the views from their studios or painted them in the Chill of Moonlight.

 

"Highlights of this section include View of Pillnitz Castle [1823] by Johann Christian Dahl [1788–1857] & four-paintings by the German-Realist Adolph Menzel [1815–1905].

 

"Created between 1845 & 1851, Menzel’s pictures are devoted to the effects of light in mostly-empty rooms, such as his Bedroom in Daylight, with a view of Expanding-Berlin outside the window, his Sitting-Room with closed shutters at Twilight, & the building’s Staircase at Night.

 

"Menzel never exhibited these small works during his Lifetime, regarding them as mere experiments, & they were discovered only after his death.”

 

It is of interest that the Unidentified-French-Female-Artists in the exhibition—shown making elegant drawings of rooms overlooking Picturesque Parisian Views—could not hope to compete for the prestigious Prix de Rome, which allowed their Male-Colleagues to spend five years  as Pensionnaires at the Académie de France in the Villa-Medici in Rome…

 

If the Young-Ladies & Women were allowed—or even Encouraged—to paint, this Men-Only Restriction had nothing to do with the Old-Idea that Woman’s Place Is in the Home.

 

There is a lot of Unspoken-History & Tradition reflected in these Windows. It is an Exhibition Not To Be Missed!

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