This exhibition is now closed.
Beginning 19 February 2009 in The Ilott Room, Impressions of France: French prints 1850–1900 presented etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts from Te Papa's collection.
The prints represent a diverse range of styles and techniques, and include works by members of the Barbizon School, and the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements. The display offers an opportunity to see work in another medium by artists who are better known as painters, such as Corot, Manet, and Renoir, as well as works by master printmakers such as Legros and Bracquemond. Japanese woodcuts are also included to represent the significant influence of these prints on French artists of the time.
By far the most important development in French printmaking was the rediscovery of etching as a medium for creative expression. In the early 19th century, etching was seen mainly as a means of reproducing paintings and drawings, but, later, landscape painters began to see it as a viable medium for making original images.
Both the artists of the Barbizon School and the Impressionists were attracted to etching, as it allowed for spontaneous, sketchy lines and hatchings, and for the use of the white paper to capture effects of light on the landscape. Copper plates could also be taken outdoors to record the variety of nature on the spot. A superb example of this use of the medium is Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's etching, Souvenir d'Italie.
The Impressionists in particular explored less common techniques, such as drypoint and softground etching, as they sought to express the emotional realism of a subject. This is illustrated in Berthe Morisot's drypoint, La leçon de dessin (Berthe Morisot drawing, with her daughter).
Henri Toulouse Lautrec introduced flat, stylised areas of colour and expressive line into his lithographs, such as Le coiffeur, and extended each composition beyond the picture area. These features are typical of Japanese woodcuts.
Impressions of France: French prints 1850–1900 closed on18 August 2009.
The Ilott Room, Level 4. Free entry.
Monet and the Impressionists was on display until 17 May 2009.
Visa Platinum Gallery, Level 4. Exhibition admission charges apply.