Berkshire Museums ’16: Renoir Redeemed

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I’ve been joking about my “feud” with Pierre-Auguste Renoir ever since I overdosed on his art at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia–a place where literally every wall is covered with his works. An afternoon there will certainly give you enough bucolic portraits of shimmeringly blurry young girls to last a lifetime!

Truth is, though, that I’m totally kidding myself: I love what the guy can do with color and flowers. At a place like the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, where I was surrounded by both nature and Impressionism, I’m even more apt to admire his boldly-brushed blooms.

2016 marks the third year in which I’ve kicked off September with a field trip to museums in the Berkshires. This time, I was inspired by my love of macro photography to capture wondrous, delicate details in Renoi–um, Impressionist paintings–and some other enchanting genres!

(Pictured above: a photograph of a flower I took on one of the Clark’s nature trails, followed by some blooms painted by–you guessed it…)

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I’m quite sure I photographed this very same Monet in last year’s post about the Clark, but I wanted to focus on the beautiful sunlight and shadows reflected on the water this time around. Look at that soft sea green strip near the horizon, too!

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Here’s how Pierre-Auguste won me over this time. I couldn’t stop staring at his incredible depiction of the Bay of Naples, where the setting sun has transformed the sails and skies alike into a candy-colored dream. What I wouldn’t give to be drinking a mocktail and watching the waves on one of those ships!

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Let’s leave the Impressionists behind for a moment to return to straight-up Academic realism. Can you believe this is a painting? The floral details on the tiles are exquisitely done.

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And what would a trip to the Clark be without some time with Winslow Homer? My recent travels to Maine and Eastern Massachusetts lent me new insight into the wild landscapes behind Homer’s work.

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When I’d enjoyed my fill of paintings and sculpture, I wandered out onto the hill to delight in September sunshine and wildflowers galore. The grounds of the Clark are the sort of place that you can’t explore without having the soundtrack to Howl’s Moving Castle playing on an endless loop in your head–so many fairy tales could be set in the Berkshires!

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