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The First Artistic Exchange
By David at 05/11/2009 - 05:08

The First Artistic Exchange

In the second half of the XIXth century, American Artists "invaded Paris as though it were the far West. Among them were many fairly distinguished painters. One of whom was a woman of great talent…

Even if one ignores the best known writers and poets, a history of the Franco-American cultural exchange could easily fill a large volume. John Trumbull, who came to Paris in 1780, was the first in a long series of painters along with Samuel Morse, (better known as the inventor of the telegraph than as the painter of "La Fayette Afoot") John Vanderlyn, Rembrandt Peale or George Healy; these three were among the best of America’s portrait painters. In 1788, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded by Quesnay de Beaurepaire, Rochambeau’s companion in arms. French classical architecture, much admired by Jefferson during his sojourn as ambassador to France, made mark on American villages and towns. The engineer Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, a soldier in the Revolutionary Army, designed Washington D.C., while William Strickland, architect of the first Town Hall New York, introduced to the United States the technique of the suspension bridge, which he learned in France. In the second half of the XIXth century, study in Paris became a "must" for American artists. The Barbizon school of painting, made famous by Millet, had among disciples William Morris Hunt and Edward Wheelwright.

Corot influenced George Inness and Homer D. Martin; Monet befriended Théodore Robinson who attracted many compatriots to Giverny. The most famous American students of the French masters were James Whistler, who studied in Gleyre’s atelier before working with Fantin-Latour, Courbet, Degas and Manet; and Mary Cassatt, who in 1873, settled in Paris at age 29. Cassatt worked with Degas, Renoir and Pissaro, who envied her sketches. She was decorated with the Légion d’honneur in 1904 ; she died in Paris in 1926.


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