Impressionist Paintings/San Francisco

a303559_v1_heroSummer in San Francisco is a time to appreciate the beauty of light on the water at the SF Bay or the Pacific Ocean. The Legion of Honor Museum, perched above the Pacific in one of the few spots with a gorgeous view of both the Bay and Ocean at the same time, offers visitors a glorious exhibition, Impressionists on the Water. It opened June 1 and runs through October 13, 2013. More than 80 paintings and works on paper demonstrate the artists’ fascination with water, light, and color in works by Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Caillebotte and post-Impressionists including Denis and Signac. When I had the opportunity to tour the exhibit with the distinguished guest curators, I mentioned to one of them, Christopher Lloyd, former Keeper of Queen Elizabeth’s collection, that I thought they had painted all those boats just because they were pretty. He said that he had once thought that, too. Instead, it turns out that they were all involved in boating, knowledgeable about yacht construction and sometimes active in competitions. In Regatta in Argenteuill, Gustav Caillebotte shows three different views of his sail boat and a self-portrait of himself steering with one finger. He was an expert boat designer and proud of his boats’ speed. The guest curators include Phillip Dennis Cate, former director of the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers Univ., and the marine historian, Daniel Charles. To look at these paintings is to feel the refreshing movement of the water through the active brushstrokes. Photos: (above), Boats Moored at Le Petit-Gennevilliers (1874), Monet; (L-R)Regatta at Argenteuill (1893), Caillebotte; Sunflowers Along the Seine (1885-1886), Caillebotte; Oarsmen at Chatou (1879), Renoir(pictures courtesy of FAMSF). Mrs. Diane B. Wilsey, President, Board of Trustees, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (photo by Jonathan Clark). Mrs.Wilsey is standing by the boat, Nana, believed to have belonged to the author, Emile Zola.