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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2012
In 1910, the Worcester Art Museum purchased the first Monet, "Water Lilies" (1908,) to enter a collection in America. This was just a decade after the opening of the Museum in 1898 following which, until 1912, it held annual exhibitions of contemporary American painting.

To celebrate the Museum's centenary, an exhibition of American impressionist paintings was arranged and this is the accompanying book.
47 paintings, mainly from the Museum's collection, are illustrated as full page, colour plates and include all the expected names; as well as two paintings each by Metcalf, Twachtman and Aldon Weir; three by Cassatt, Church and Tarbell; eight by Sargent, including a watercolour, "Muddy Alligators"; nine by Benson, including two wonderful watercolours from 1913 ("Eider Ducks Flying", "Eider Ducks in Winter"), and ten by Hassam, including three from his New York window series, in which he expertly plays with the internal/external tension. Perhaps my particulate favourite is none of these, rather DeCamp's "Sally" (c. 1907) just ahead of Benson's "Nathalie" of 1917.

The (then) Curator of American Art at the Worcester Art Museum, David Brigham, has an essay "American Impressionism: Paintings of Promise" which is illustrated in black and white figures and contemporary photographs. This describes the socio-political context of America in the late 19th/early 20th century, impressionism in France and its arrival in America through returning painters and exhibitions, and the working methods of American impressionists. This leads into consideration of the works in the exhibition within four key themes: "The Landscape as Place of Respite"; "Interior as Sanctuary"; "Japan: A Model of Restraint and Refinement", and "Women: Images of Ideal Americans". There is a selected bibliography but no index.

This is an interesting catalogue; though just over 80 pages it contains pictures which do not usually feature in the larger, blockbuster exhibitions and it is all the better for this.
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