This installation of landscapes, domestic interiors, and decorative arts from the museum’s collection showcases stylistic developments in 19th-century French painting and design. It also invites us to think about the different worlds of men and women at that time.
Beginning in the middle of the century, male artists began to paint outside, capturing intimate landscape views near Paris, scenes of laborers in the fields, and dramatic coastline vistas. The sense of immediacy that permeates those landscapes can also be found when artists turned their attention indoors. Like Vermeer before them, they were fascinated by the unremarkable moments of daily life at home.
Images of women, somewhere between formal portrait and genre scene, give a limited picture of female lives toward the end of the century. The two women artists featured in this installation represent the beginning of broader opportunities for women, but even as they developed professional careers their subject matter was limited to family scenes, still lifes, and portraits.
Fishing Boats at Étretat, 1885, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in., Seattle Art Museum, Partial and promised gift of an anonymous donor, 92.88.