For the first time in recent memory, all seventeen of the Met's paintings by Vincent van Gogh—the largest collection of the artist's work on this side of the Atlantic—are in house and on view in galleries 823, 826, and 961. Visitors can enjoy a full range of highlights from the artist's prolific years in France, from portraits to still lifes to landscapes. These masterpieces are often committed to exhibitions around the world, making this a not-to-be-missed occasion.
Summer has also brought a rich assortment of temporary loans from private collections to the nineteenth-century galleries. Paul Gauguin's self-portrait of circa 1894, described by a contemporary as resembling "a sumptuous, gigantic Magyar, or … Rembrandt in 1635," joins the self-portrait of his colleague Van Gogh in a straw hat in gallery 826. In gallery 825 next door, Paul Cézanne's striking portrait of his friend and patron Victor Chocquet hangs next to the artist's painting of his wife, Hortense, in the conservatory.
A respite from sweltering subway platforms and crowded sidewalks is on offer in gallery 818—dedicated to early works by Claude Monet—with an installation of scenes painted at the seaside resort of Sainte-Adresse during the summer of 1867. On display are the Met's Regatta at Sainte-Adresse and Garden at Sainte-Adresse, along with Adolphe Monet (1800–1871) Reading in a Garden, lent by Lawrence J. Ellison. All three pictures feature Monet's father, posing amid the rocky beaches, sunstruck promenades, and flowering gardens of France's northern coast.
In gallery 829, recent additions illuminate the shared styles and themes that animated cutting-edge art across Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. The recently acquired The Dream of the Shepherd (Der Traum des Hirten) by Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler is in good company with exuberant canvases by the little-known Vienna Secessionists Otto Friedrich and Bertold Löffler, lent by the Hearn Family Trust; and with two moody interior scenes by the Norwegian Edvard Munch, Night in Saint-Cloud and Cypress in Moonlight, lent by a private collection. Works by Gustav Klimt, Maurice Denis, and Odilon Redon from the Met's permanent collection round out the presentation.
A dashing duo may be seen in gallery 804: Jean-Léon Gérôme's Bashi-Bazouk, a partial and promised gift of Kenneth Jay Lane, hangs next to another painting of the same title by Gérôme, which is a recent gift to the Museum by Jayne Wrightsman. Exquisitely rendered, they vary in every detail but one—the extraordinary textile headpiece the artist liked so much that he had to paint it twice.
Gallery 809 hosts a trio of stunning still lifes: Édouard Manet's The Brioche, a partial and promised gift of an anonymous donor, and a pair of rare flower paintings by Eugène Boudin, best known as the landscapist and marine painter who inspired the young Monet. Not far away, in gallery 811, Gustave Courbet's spirited hunting scenes find a companion in the artist's endearing depiction of a brown-and-white dog, reprised from his groundbreaking A Burial at Ornans (1849–50; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Like all of summer's pleasures, these are destined to be fleeting; while some of the loans are long-term, the pictures by Gauguin, Cézanne, Manet, Boudin, and Courbet are only on view until late August, and the painting by Gérôme returns home at the beginning of September.
New York Times: "Summer Treats in the Met's European Galleries" (July 31, 2014)