The Courtauld Gallery is pleased to announce Masterpieces of Impressionism: The Courtauld Collection, a major touring exhibition of 60 works that will travel to Japan as part of The British Council’s UK in Japan 2019-20 season. This touring exhibition has been developed by The Courtauld in collaboration with the newspaper and media group Asahi Shimbun. The exhibition follows the success of The Courtauld Collection: A Vision for Impressionism at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris (February – June 2019), which drew an audience of 483,000.
The Courtauld Gallery is renowned internationally as the home of one of the most important collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. It includes iconic paintings such as Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Paul Cézanne’s Card Players and Paul Gauguin’s Nevermore. These, and many other masterpieces, will travel to three major museums in Japan, made possible due to the temporary closure of The Courtauld Gallery for a major capital project. This ambitious multi-year venture, entitled Courtauld Connects, will transform The Courtauld Institute of Art and Gallery’s current home in Somerset House in central London.
Masterpieces of Impressionism: The Courtauld Collection provides a comprehensive survey of this artistic movement, principally through the exceptional collection of The Courtauld Gallery’s founder, the pioneering British collector and philanthropist Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947). During the 1920s, Samuel Courtauld acquired seminal paintings by the leading Impressionist artists, from Renoir’s early masterpiece La Loge to Manet’s last great work, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, exhibited in Paris in the Salon of 1882. His collection grew to include Gauguin’s great Tahitian paintings Nevermore and Te Rerioa, Degas’s Two Dancers on a Stage, Van Gogh’s Peach trees in Blossom, Monet’s Autumn effect at Argenteuil and Modigliani’s Female Nude, all of which will be included in the exhibition. Courtauld was particularly devoted to the art of Paul Cézanne and formed one of the finest collections of his works ever assembled. Ten paintings by Cézanne will travel to Japan as part of the tour.
When Courtauld began collecting at the beginning of the 1920s, the artistic establishment in the United Kingdom was openly hostile towards this type of modern art. Art critics denounced Cézanne as “outrageous, anarchistic and childish”. Courtauld’s unwavering support of Impressionism had an enormous impact, changing forever the taste of the British public, who have gone on to embrace the Impressionist movement as one of the most important in art history. The exhibition will also include a number of works given to the Gallery by later collectors or on loan from private owners. It represents a once in a generation opportunity to enjoy this outstanding selection of masterpieces outside Europe, including works not previously seen in Japan.
Samuel Courtauld’s collection was magnificently displayed in a lavish 18th-century neoclassical townhouse in Portman Square in London where he generously entertained with his wife Elizabeth, a great patron of music and progressive benefactor of social causes in her own right. Courtauld’s philanthropy and vision were grounded in the belief that art was vital for individual fulfilment and the well-being of society. He founded The Courtauld Institute of Art, where art history and conservation were taught at university level for the first time in the UK, as a way to promote the wide understanding and teaching of the arts. The Courtauld remains to this day one of the world’s leading centres for the study of art history.
Samuel and Elizabeth Courtauld firmly believed that art was without borders and could unite people and nations. The Courtauld Gallery looks forward to sharing the highlights of its celebrated collection with new audiences in Japan as part of this unique tour.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo: 10 September – 15 December 2019
- Aichi Prefectural Museum, Nagoya: 3 January – 2 March 2020
- Kobe City Museum, Kobe: Opening date TBA