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Impressionists at the Pitti Palace

12 masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

09-24-2013 | 01-05-2014

This extraordinary event is the result of an exchange between the two important French and Italian museum institutes.

Indeed, in a gesture of reciprocity the Musée d’Orsay has loaned these 12 Impressionist masterpieces following the important contribution made by the Gallery of Modern Art which made it possible to organise the exhibition  I macchiaioli des impressionistes italiens? at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris from 10 April to 22 July last.  

19 masterpieces by the leading exponents of the Tuscan movement, in addition to the precious  Album, the Zibaldone by Telemaco Signorini, for three months left the Florentine gallery, which possesses the most important collection of works documenting the Macchiaiolo movement. In this way the Gallery of Modern Art of the Pitti Palace made its own substantial contribution to this cultural exchange, casting light on a synchronicity of feeling and analogies of research between French and Italian artists in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The two works by Degas, two by Monet, two by Cezanne, two by Renoir, two by Pissarro, one by Fantin Latour  and one by Paul Guigou now on display could suggest further paths of study and research aimed to illuminate various possible contaminations between the French and Tuscan cultures, which may have acted as a crucial benchmark even for the experiences of the twentieth century.

The works from the Musée d’Orsay will be welcomed at the exhibition by two paintings by Pissarro Cutting the Hedge and The Approach of the Storm, in addition to a small oil by Alphonse Maureau On the banks of the Seine, which were part of the collection of Diego Martelli – an art critic very close to the Macchiaioli painters and one of the first supporters of Impressionism in Italy – and  were donated to the museum in his will in 1894.

It had indeed always been a cherished dream of Martelli’s, which he had expressed several times in writing, to unite these works of his with some paintings by Fattori, Gioli and other exponents of the Macchiaiolo movement, to illustrate the similarity between the two languages through direct comparison between the works.

The exhibition is not intended to give a critical reading or to find correspondences between the different ways of understanding the real, but simply to display these Impressionist works and those by other leading nineteenth-century French artists, as a rare opportunity to reflect on the cultural and philosophical meditation that led to such modern results as early as the 1860s.

Formal results that can, to a degree, bring the ideas that triggered the French impressions closer to the positive notion that, through a similar procedure, was implied in the results of Macchiaiolo painting.

And so we decided to present the works through the language of form and content, fostering understanding by dividing the display route into two different but related sections. The first, En plein air, is devoted to the portrayal of exteriors: landscapes and the relations with light and its vibrations, beginning with a Washerwoman by Paul Guigou from 1860, a female nude study by Auguste Renoir dating to 1875-76 and then continuing with Camille Pissarro, Path through the wood in summer, dated 1877, while The Approach of the Storm, dating to the same year, and Cutting the Hedge from 1878 are the Gallery’s own works, as mentioned above. Also by Pissarro, the 1877 A Corner of the Garden at the Hermitage, while Claude Monet’s  Les Tuileries  dates to 1875 and The Seine at Port – Villez to 1890 .

The second section, devoted to the interiors, opens with the Reader of 1861, and proceeds with an interior of a collective and social type, the Ballet Rehearsal on Stage dating to 1874, one of the masterpieces of Edgar Degas, and then with the Woman with a Porcelain Vase of 1872, moving on to two Still Lifes by Cezanne The Blue Vase from 1889-90 and Still Life with Open Drawer of 1877-79 and, to round off the itinerary,  a 1911 portrait by Auguste Renoir Gabrielle with a Rose.


Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

Direzione Regionale per i Beni culturali e paesaggistici della Toscana

Soprintendenza speciale per il patrimonio storico, artistico ed etnoantropologico e per il polo museale della città di Firenze

Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti

Museo d’Orsay

Firenze Musei

Project design

Mauro Linari

Curated by

Simonella Condemi and Rosanna Morozzi




Cinzia Nenci

Press office

Opera laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

Ticket prices

Full Price: € 13,00
Reduced: € 6,50


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