If you’ve never been to the Taft Museum, you’re missing one of Southwest Ohio’s artistic gems.
Located in downtown Cincinnati, the museum is housed in the former home of Charles and Anna Taft — President William Howard Taft’s half-brother and his wife. The couple amassed an amazing collection of European old master and 19th-century paintings, American art, European sculpture and decorative arts and Chinese porcelain. Their 700 treasures are on display in the historic home that opened to the public in 1932 and includes a 2004 addition.
A registered National Historic Landmark, the house is the oldest domestic wooden structure remaining in its original location in Cincinnati and is considered one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style in the country.
WHY NOW IS AN IDEAL TIME TO VISIT MUSEUM
In addition to seeing the wonderful permanent collection, through the end of May visitors can take in a rare, impressive international exhibition “Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape.” The show, produced by the Taft in conjunction with the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, aims to educate visitors about the origins of Impressionism through the work of Charles François Daubigny, a central figure in the development of 19th-century French landscape painting.
“It’s the most ambitious project we’ve ever taken on,” said Deborah Emont Scott, Taft director and CEO. “We have loans from museums and private collections throughout North America and Europe.”
If you’re a regular visitor to the Dayton Art Institute, you’ll have seen work by Daubigny. The museum owns three works by the artist including “A Lake in the Woods at Dusk,” a painting on view in the Monet gallery. The label points out the ways in which Daubigny’s interest in painting out-of-doors and “brushy application of paint” provided an important example to later Impressionists.
The Cincinnati exhibition, which runs through May 29, will then travel to Edinburgh and Amsterdam later in 2016 and 2017. It is not scheduled to be shown anywhere else in the United States.
A reconstruction of Daubigny’s studio boat, constructed by Dayton’s Tristan Cupp — Zoot Theatre’s well-known co-founder and artistic director — is also on view. The boat reinforces one of the main themes of the exhibition: Daubigny’s innovative approach to painting landscapes from a water-level perspective. Video clips provided by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts provide several landscape views and a time lapse video demonstrating the painting process so visitors will see first-hand what it’s like to paint on a boat and how an artist paints a landscape on the river.
40 WORKS OF ART ON DISPLAY
The 40 Daubigny masterpieces on display showcase the range of Daubigny’s achievements over four decades. You’ll see lovely paintings of the Seine and Oise rivers, stormy atmospheric views of the Normandy coast, and lush fields in the countryside outside Paris. As the exhibit demonstrates, all of these inspired Monet and Pissarro.
Daubigny’s panoramic views of the sunny grain-fields near Auvers were admired by Van Gogh, who adopted Daubigny’s then famous double-wide canvas formats for his own pictures of the plains near Auvers. The final section of the exhibition includes five masterpieces by Van Gogh that reflect Daubigny’s influence.
Highlights of the exhibition include Daubigny’s views of blossoming orchards, a subject he invented that the Impressionists soon took up, and dramatic moonlit landscapes; Pissarro’s “The Banks of the Oise near Pontoise” which echoes Daubigny’s compositions; Monet’s “Autumn on the Seine, Argenteuil,” which was painted from Monet’s studio boat; and the swirling intensity of Van Gogh’s “Daubigny’s Garden.”
MUST-SEES IN THE PERMANENT GALLERIES
Be sure to allow yourself enough time to walk through the rooms in the historic home filled with priceless art. For a tour of the highlights, pick up the “Taft Top 10” flyer.
The museum houses portraits by Rembrant and John Singer Sargent and a beautiful painting “At the Piano” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, which is considered to be the artist’s first masterpiece. The landscape murals by Ronert S. Duncanson, are the most ambitious surviving pre-Civil War mural paintings for a home and a landscape by Joseph Mallord William Turner also anticipates some aspects of Impressionism.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: “Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape”
WHERE: Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike Street, Cincinnati
WHEN: Through May 29. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Due to the popularity of the exhibition, admission on Sundays is only by timed tickets secured in advance. Timed tickets are also strongly recommended for Tuesday through Saturday as well. If you choose not to purchase tickets in advance, you may experience a delay until the next entry time becomes available.
TICKETS: Admission to the Taft Museum of Art is $15, which includes entrance to the special exhibition as well as the rest of the museum. Sunday admission is $5, which includes entrance to the special exhibition and youth and children are free. Timed tickets will be available for purchase at www.taftmuseum.org. Note that Sunday admission for the permanent collection at the historic house is free.
Special events and programming:
- A symposium from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 will focus on Daubigny’s innovations, contributions, and interactions with the Impressionists, and his influence on Vincent van Gogh. Tickets are $45 for non-members and include lunch. Reservations required. Call (513) 684-4516 or visit www.taftmuseum.org.
- “From Palette to Palate: The Art and Food of the Impressionists” will take place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Taft Executive Chef Luke Radkey will explore the French culinary palate with sample small bites. It’s $15 for non-members.
- Art À La Carte (Just for Young Professionals) is slated for 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 13. The evening features wine, painting, music and poetry.
- “En Plein Air Landscape Painting Workshop” will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15. Dayton landscape artist Gretchen Durst Jacobs will conduct a two-day workshop in oil paints. On the first day, you’ll look at Daubigny’s landscapes and sketch and paint on the Taft’s grounds. On day two, participants will walk to the river and find a location to make their own landscape en plein air. Paint and canvas will be supplied. Tickets are $80 non-members. Reservations required: (513) 684-4516 or www.taftmuseum.org. Includes admission to the museum and special exhibition.
Reservations required for all of the related programs. Call (513) 684-4516 or visit www.taftmuseum.org.
Publication: A fully illustrated 176-page catalogue is available in the museum gift shop for $35.
Audio Tour: A free audio tour is available to visitors at www.taftmuseum.org. Printed versions of the audio tour will be available for visitors without smartphones and those who are hearing impaired.
Lunch: Cafe reservations are required. Call (513) 352-5140 to book your table.