Fall Into an Impressionist Painting at the New York Botanical Garden’s Spring Show

See what inspired the American Impressionists.

Installation view of
Installation view of "Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas" at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens, © Robert Benson Photography.
Installation view of "Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas" at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

Installation view of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

Stepping into the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) this spring and summer, visitors may feel as though they’ve fallen into an Impressionist landscape painting. That’s the goal, at least, of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas,” which aims to recreate the lush gardens and landscapes that inspired American Impressionists, who dared, like their European counterparts, to paint en plein air.

A horticultural team led by Francisca Coelho has planted tens of thousands of flowers, with a wide variety of blooms including peonies, morning glories, and poppies, as well as less familiar varieties such as tree mallows, gillyflowers, and toadflax.

Edmund William Greacen, <em>In Miss Florence’s Garden</em> (1913). Courtesy of a private collector.

Edmund William Greacen, In Miss Florence’s Garden (1913). Courtesy of a private collector.

The exhibition offers a dramatic contrast to this past summer‘s “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life,” which offered a more desert-like environment, filled with the spiky cacti Frida Kahlo planted at her Mexico City home, the Casa Azul.

This year’s selections were based on sites in the Northeast where artists painted around the turn of the century, and are accompanied by a recreation of a New England cottage, with a welcoming front porch from where visitors can sit and admire the colorful views.

Installation view of "Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas" at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

Installation view of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens.

The flower display is accompanied by over 20 Impressionist paintings and sculptures by John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, and their contemporaries.

The canvases feature such gardens as that of Florence Griswold‘s early 20th century artist colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where residents were  encouraged to help take care of the grounds as they were to paint. Coelho also turned to writer and painter Celia Thaxter’s home in Appledore Island, Maine; Maria Oakey and Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s rose garden in Cornish, New Hampshire; and John Twachtman’s woodland-filled property in Greenwich, Connecticut, to best capture the look and feel of the landscapes that captivated American Impressionists.

See more views of the paintings and the flower installation below.

Installation view of "Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas" at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens, © Robert Benson Photography.

Installation view of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens, © Robert Benson Photography.

Installation view of "Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas" at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens, © Robert Benson Photography.

Installation view of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” at the New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens, © Robert Benson Photography.

Frederick Childe Hassam, <em>Celia Thaxter's Garden, Appledore, Isles of Shoals</em> (circa 1890). Property of the Westervelt Collection and displayed in the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Frederick Childe Hassam, Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Appledore, Isles of Shoals (circa 1890). Property of the Westervelt Collection and displayed in the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

John Singer Sargent, Vase Fountain, Pocantico (1917). Courtesy of a private collector.

John Singer Sargent, Vase Fountain, Pocantico (1917). Courtesy of a private collector.

“Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” will be on view at the New York Botanical Garden, May 14–September 11, 2015.


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