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the triumph of landscape painting

Christine Dixon, Ron Radford and Lucina Ward

• national gallery of australia

Prime Minister's foreword

Turner to Monet: the triumph of landscape is, in every sense, a landmark exhibition. It is the most comprehensive survey of nineteenth-century Western landscape painting ever assembled and showcases Australian landscape painting of the nineteenth century in an international context.

Drawn from public and private collections in Australia and abroad, this outstanding exhibition is the result of intensive research, negotiation and organisation. I commend the National Gallery of Australia for developing and presenting this important exhibition.

This exhibition also represents a milestone in the Australian Government's support for the arts. Turner to Monet is the 100th exhibition made possible by Art Indemnity Australia, through which the Commonwealth indemnifies major exhibitions of significant cultural material. More than 21 million visitors have accessed works covered by the scheme since it was established in 1979.

The Government is committed to supporting the creative vision of Australian artists and a vibrant and diverse arts sector. Our great national cultural institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia, make significant contributions to Australian society and identity. I am looking forward to the completion next year of the improvements and extensions to the gallery, which are currently under construction.

I hope many Australians will visit our national gallery and take this unique opportunity to experience the work of the foremost Western landscape artists to have practised in this country and the wider world.

The Honourable Kevin Rudd, MP Prime Minister of Australia

cat.78 Tom Roberts 'Evening, when the quiet east flushes faintly at the suns last look' 1887-88 (detail)


Lenders to the exhibition

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Christopher Menz, Director

Jane Messenger, Curator of European Art Tracey Lock-Weir, Curator of Australian

Painting and Sculpture

Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Victoria Gordon Morrison, Director

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane Tony Ellwood, Director

Julie Ewington, Head of Australian Art

Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria Daniel McOwan, Director

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart Bill Bleathrnan, Director

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Alan R. Dodge, former Director

Gary Dufour, Acting Director

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Edmund Capon, AM, OBE, Director Anthony Bond, General Manager,

Curatorial Services

Barty Pearce, Head Curator, Australian Art

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Prof. Dr Martin Roth, Director-General

Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden Dr Ulrich Bischoff, Director

Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg Prof. Dr Hubertus GaJlner, Director Dr Jenns E. Howoldt, Curator

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Axel RUger, Director

Leo Jansen, Curator of Paintings

Kroller-Miiller Museum, Orterlo Dr Evert van Straaten, Director

Dr Liz Kreijn, Head Collection Presentation

Bergen Kunstmuseum

Audun Eckhoff, Department Director and Deputy Director

Knut Ormhaug, Senior Curator

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Dr Guillermo Solana, Chief Curator

Fondation Beyeler, Basel Ernst Beyeler

Dr Ulf KUster, Curator

Ministry of Defence Art Collection, London Charlotte Henwood, Registrar

Royal Academy of Arts, London

Dr Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive

Dr MaryAnne Stevens, Director of Academic Affairs


Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director, Tate Britain David Blayney Brown and Ian Warrell, Curators

Victoria & Albert Museum, London Mark Jones, Director

Dr Mark Evans, Senior Curator of Paintings, Word and Image Department

National Galleries of Scotland John Leighton, Director-General

Michael Clark, Director, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Aidan Weston-Lewis, Chief Curator of Italian and Spanish Art

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Dr Michael Brand, Director

Dr Scott Schaefer, Curator of Paintings

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Michael Govan, Director and Chief Executive Officer

Dr Ilene Susan Fort, Gail & John Liebes Curator of American Art

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven Dr Amy Meyers, Director

Angus Trumble, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture

Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio Dr Stephanie Wiles, John G.W Cowles Director

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Anne d'Harnoncourt, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer

Joseph J. Rishel, The Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting before 1900

Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri Dr Brent R. Benjamin, Director

Dr Andrew J. Walker, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, Curator of American Art Dr Charlotte Eyerman, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

John E. Buchanan Jr, Director

California Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum Dr Lynn Federle Orr, Curator-in-Charge

of European Art

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum

Timothy Anglin Burgard, The Ednah Root Curator of American Art, Curator-in-Charge, American Art

Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

Dr Don Bacigalupi, Presiden r, Director and Chief Executive Officer

Dr Lawrence W Nichols, William Hutton Curator, European and American Painting and Sculpture before 1900

National Gallery of Art, Washington Earl A. Powell III, Director

The late Philip Conisbee, Senior Curator of European Paintings

Dr Franklin Kelly, Senior Curator of American and British Painting

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington Dr Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret

and Terry Srenr Director

Dr Eleanor Jones Harvey, Chief Curator

James O. Fairfax, AO, Australia

Asbjorn R. Lunde, New York

The Duke of Northumberland, Great Britain

Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth Kerry Stokes, AO

The late John Stringer

John Wilmerding, USA

Galerie Paffrath, DUsseldorf Hans-Christian Paffrath

Galerie Hans, Hamburg Mathias F. Hans

French & Company, New York HenryZimet


· "

85. Georges Seurat

France 1859-1891

Study for Le Bee du Hoc, Grandeamp 1885 oil on panel 15.6 x 24.5 cm

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Purchased from proceeds of The Great Impressionists exhibition 1984 1984.1933

The immediacy of this painting links Seurat to the Impressionists. While such studies could capture a fragment in time, the artist was fascinated by the science of colour contrasts. His finished paintings show a precise use of Pointillism, his trademark style. Study for Le Bee du Hoc, Grandeamp reveals the approach Seurat used on the spot, quickly painting a scene that he would later manipulate in his studio.

Seurat's landscapes often emerged from his holidays. The artist visited Grandcamp after ten months' work on his famous, monumental Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte 1884-86. [ Nevertheless this small painting, made en plein air, was part of the artist's painstaking process for creating large paintings. A typical first-stage study, from it was created Le Bee du Hoc, Grandeamp 1885.2 Seurat is focused almost entirely on the main subject, the Bec - 'nose' or 'nozzle' - of the Hoc, a distinctive feature of the Normandy coastline. The eye is reluctant to linger for long on other areas of the study.

Seurat's figurative works lead to thoughts of abstraction, but

in landscape his dot-by-dot approach highlights the severity of Nature's beauty and structure. The study features small blocks of paint and unexpected colours that can only be seen on close inspection. The sea is rendered in a series of short horizontal strokes, in satisfying contrast with the grass, which he textured by cross-hatching greens, creams and pale pinks. The cliff-face has been painted in short strokes of blue, purple and orange, yet at a distance the area appears a deceptively natural brown. In his marine works Seurat is famous for simple scenes and stillness. Water, rocks and grass all benefit from his technique, as do sunsets, afternoon sun, and even a suggestion of wind.

1. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago; John Russell, Seurat, London: Thames and Hudson, 1965, p.l70; William Innes Homer, Seurat and the science o/painting, Cambridge Massachusetts: M.l.T. Press, 1964, p. 115.

2. Collection of the Tate Britain; on loan (Q the National Gallery, London.


Parts of the study appear in the completed painting, and others were altered or improved. For the final work Seurat omitted the brown rocks at the water's edge, and increased the amount of visible sky. Above the peak he inserted a small flock of birds.

A tiny white sailing boat to the left of the cliff, almost imperceptible in the study, was later moved to the right and

made more prominent. In the study the artist made a rough

note to himself about the contrasts on the grassy cliff, which he then rendered in a more naturalistic form. The sea is choppy here, recorded in unsettling shades of green, but eventually the water became a blue-grey sheet, cut only by the white froth

that appears on deep water from small waves. Overall, Seurat manipulates this study into a finished and peaceful scene to create Le Bee du Hoc, Grandeamp.

The study implies a paradox of subject and approach. Seurat chooses the majestic form of the Bec du Hoc as an example of unadorned nature at its purest and most powerful. Then he imposes his own perfectionist and exact Pointillism. Many artists followed his lead, but other Impressionists could not ultimately reconcile their style with his. Landscape was one of a number

of subjects which Seurat altered for his own original use, to demonstrate personal aesthetic theories and to aid the progress of painting.

Kathleen Warden



This project, initiated by the Director Ron Radford, has been supported by the Gallery's Council and Foundation, Deputy Director Alan Froud, and Assistant Directors Simon Elliott and Adam Worrall. Many individuals have worked extremely hard on this exhibition and catalogue, both of which have been organised in an unusually short time fo~ such an ambitious project. A great many more people, far too many to name individually, have contributed ideas for the show, and its promotion.

We greatly appreciate the expert professional assistance provided by our colleagues at the National Gallery of Australia, especially the members of: the Conservation Department under Debbie Ward, and David Wise; Curators in Australian and International Art, Mark Henshaw for translation, Elena Taylor, Anne O'Hehir, Niki van den Heuvel, Simeran Maxwell, as well as support staff Sophie Ross and Lucinda Shawcross and interns Emilie Owens, Kathleen Warden and Elizabeth Welden; Education and Public Programs led by Peter Naumann; Executive, Hester Gascoigne and Helen Truman; Exhibitions, Adam Worrall, Mark Bayly, David Turnbull, and the design and installations teams; Imaging and Publications, Julie Donaldson, Erica Seccombe, Nick Nicholson, Brenton McGeachie, Eleni Kypridis, Kirsty Morrison, Kristin Thomas, Eric Meredith and the multimedia team; Marketing and Communication, Alison Wright, Todd Hayward, Petalyn Holloway; Membership and Maryanne Voyazis; Registration, Sara Kelly with Jane Marsden and Lesley Arjonilla, and former registrar Erica Persak; Research librarians Helen Hyland, Gillian Currie, Vicki Marsh and other staff under [oye Volker; and our Security staff.


We thank all the contributors to the catalogue who are listed individually on the following page. They have generously shared their expertise, insights and excellent writing for this project. We also value the fruitful exchanges we had with colleagues, both outside the institution and within, who have suggested possible works and new ways of looking and have supported us in many other ways.

On a more personal note, Christine Dixon acknowledges her family for their patience. Ron Radford thanks Daniel Thomas for his support and suggestions. Lucina Ward also records her gratitude to Graeme and Sue Ward, Alex Reddaway and Lux for being such a great home team.

Christine Dixon, Ron Radford and Lucina Ward

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