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Shelburne Museum features famous French paintings - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shelburne Museum features famous French paintings

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SHELBURNE, Vt. -

The Shelburne Museum is expecting a lot of visitors for its new exhibition that features some of the most famous paintings in the world. It's a very rare chance for people to see the paintings from French masters.

Museum staff was putting the finishing touches on a new exhibition that opens to the public Saturday. It is called "In a New Light; French impressionism arrives in America." The centerpiece is Monet's "Le Pont, Amsterdam." It is the very first painting by Monet to become part of an American collection. It was bought from the artist in Paris by Louisine Havemeyer, mother of Shelburne Museum found Electra Havemeyer Webb.

"We have works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt. Cassatt is an interesting and important figure. She is an American who moves to France and she becomes the individual that introduces the Havemeyer family to these impressionists who were radical painters of the 1870s and 80s. We also tend to forget that impressionism was really a revolutionary way of looking at the world," said Thomas Denenberg, Shelburne Museum director.

At this time in history paintings were designed to be seen under gas lamps and electric light. This new space in the new Pizzagalli Center has state-of-the-art lighting, which Denenberg says is to show off these masterpieces. And while some of these paintings have been on display over the years at the museum, the bulk of the Havemeyer collection is in New York City.

"Their collection, the Havemeyer collection is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and that is the collection of record of French impressionism in the United States. These paintings were the paintings Electra Havemeyer Webb kept herself and they then came to Shelburne Museum after her death in 1960. So I like to say these are her favorite paintings that didn't go to the Met and came here... and that is why they include the first Monet to come to America," said Denenberg.

And while some people might have seen photographs of these paintings in books, seeing them in person makes an impression.

"You know almost intuitively even if people aren't interested in art history, even if people aren't interested in impressionism, you know intuitively when you are in the presence of genius that's what these paintings that is the lesson you take away from them," said Denenberg.

This exhibition of priceless art will be on display until Sept. 1. Click here for more on the exhibit.

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