From the museum website, 2 September 2009
The French Romantics and Impressionists counted among their inspirations the art of the Dutch Golden Age, admiring its direct observation of nature and independence from Academic priorities. This fertile period belongs to a longer history of recurrent interest of French artists in the work of their northern cousins in the Low Countries, traced in this selection of works from the Art Centre’s rich holdings in French works on paper. It starts by examining the influence of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (around 1525-1569) on the printmaker Jacques Callot (1620-1687). From the Baroque Era, the work of the renowned landscapist Claude Lorraine (1604-1682) reflects contact with Netherlandish artists in Rome. More direct is Jean-Siméon Chardin’s (1699-1779) orientation toward Dutch genre painting, represented in a fine reproduction engraving. Several prints by Jean-Pierre Norblin (1745-1830) attest to the reputation of Rembrandt (1606-1669) in France in the 1700s, which reached its zenith however more than a century later, with the artists of the Etching Revival who saw the Dutch genius as their lodestar. Works by several members of this movement form the emphasis of this exhibition. More subtle homage surfaces in Édouard Manet’s (1832-1883) depiction of his ailing wife (who happened to be Dutch). A highlight is a series of ten scenes of everyday life by François Bonvin (1817- 1887), recently acquired by the Art Centre.