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San Antonio Museum of Art debuts traveling exhibition 'America's Impressionism' this weekend

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Willard Metcalf's Poppy Field (Landscape at Giverny) - COURTESY OF SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art
  • Willard Metcalf's Poppy Field (Landscape at Giverny)
Characterized by swift and feathery brushstrokes, unblended dabs of color and sketchy depictions of everyday French life, Impressionism made its first big wave in 1874 when a group of tradition-bucking artists united for a pivotal group show. Among the works on display was Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise — a moody painting capturing a hazy morning on the Port of Le Havre. While initially criticized for its unfinished look, that 1872 painting gave the emergent Impressionists a name — thanks to a critic who used the term derisively.

As Impressionism rose to prominence in the 1880s, American artists flocked to France to glean what they could from masters like Monet, who unwittingly drew throngs of aspirants to the picturesque village of Giverny. Informed by the hallmarks of the movement — especially its celebration of outdoor scenes illuminated by shifting daylight — American artists began to bring their sensibilities to the table.

Perhaps more spinoff than imitation, the resulting genre comes to light this summer in “America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution.” Representing a collaboration between the San Antonio Museum of Art, Pennsylvania’s Brandywine River Museum of Art and Tennessee’s Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the traveling exhibition assembles more than 60 paintings by American icons Mary Cassatt and William Merritt Chase, Monet mentees Willard Metcalf and Theodore Wendel, and bluebonnet-loving Texas artists Julian Onderdonk, Dawson Dawson-Watson and José Arpa, among many others.

$12-$20, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday June 11 through September 5, San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org.

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