02 July 2005 till 30 October 2005

The Outdoor Life Nineteenth-century French landscapes from the Triton Collection

Persbeeld tentoonstelling Buitenleven Franse 19e eeuwse landschappen uit de collectie van de Triton Foundation
We are familiar with the clichés surrounding the emergence of Impressionism. The Impressionists are believed to have broken radically with tradition, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to their predecessors. This idea was propagated more by the press and the art trade than by the painters themselves, as can clearly be seen in The Outdoor Life, an exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum’s Triton Room. It includes works by Jongkind, Corot, Courbet, Daubigny, Millet, Rousseau, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Signac and Sisley, and is the second presentation in a series featuring the Triton Collection.

Roughly speaking, the story goes as follows: Impressionism emerged in France in around 1870, under the influence of the newly developed medium of photography, as a reaction against the art of the Salon and the Academie. There, artists painted prescribed subjects, producing balance compositions and accurately depicting reality. The term Impressionism was coined by a critic who exclaimed that the work of the young painters was not art, merely an impression. Since then, the Impressionists have been known as a group of artists who had a sudden urge to work out of doors, to capture the light and the fleeting moment. They did not want to imitate reality, but to interpret it, thus making Impressionism the first modern art movement. The art dealers of the time were quick to cash in on it. This idea has had to be placed in perspective over the past thirty years. There has been a reappraisal of the art of the Salon, and further research has shown that the Impressionists did not manage to escape all the conventions of the time. If we look at their landscapes, we find that their choice of subject and forms differed very little from that of their predecessors, although the younger generation of artists did turn their attention away from uplifting scenes and more towards everyday life. It was in the way they depicted their subjects that they truly broke with the past. Using rapid, sketchy and wild visual language, they rejected all that was conservative and right-wing, associating themselves with the modern age, where industrialisation and new technology were bringing rapid change. It is worth considering the work of the Impressionists in a broader context, abandoning the artificial division between what came before and after them. The progression in the landscape painting of the nineteenth century can clearly be seen in The Outdoor Life.

Triton Foundation

The Triton Foundation has built up a private collection featuring masterpieces from the period 1860-1970, which in many ways ties in perfectly with the Gemeentemuseum’s collection. Both collections have therefore been combined in the current presentations.


Each presentation is accompanied by a Triton ‘cahier’ with pieces written by several authors.

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