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Impressionism Arrives at the Figge in John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist
May 25, 2022

Davenport, Iowa (May 25, 2022) — Impressionism made its way to America over a century ago, and one of the first American artists to introduce the style to the United States was John Leslie Breck whose work will be on view at the Figge beginning Saturday.  

John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist is organized by the Mint Museum and includes more than 70 of the artist’s works. It is the first-ever museum organized exhibition dedicated to the artwork of John Leslie Breck.  

Drawn from public and private collections, as well as the acclaimed Terra Foundation collection of American art, many of the works have not been on public view in more than a century. In addition to Breck’s landscape paintings, the exhibition highlights his exploration of new styles and approaches to painting in the years before his early death at the age of 38 in 1899. More than 10 related paintings by Breck’s French and American Impressionist colleagues, including Theodore Robinson, Willard Metcalf, and Lilla Cabot Perry, are also featured in the exhibition.

“Everyone knows Monet and Degas when thinking about Impressionism, but most people are unfamiliar with Breck and how important he was to American art and the Impressionist movement,” said Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave. “We are pleased to be able to feature his breathtaking work and give Breck his well-deserved time in the spotlight, thanks to the Mint Museum’s years of work to put this exhibition together.”

After training in the United States and France, Breck visited the town of Giverny, France for the first time with a small group of colleagues in 1887. He soon befriended Claude Monet and helped lay the groundwork for Giverny to become an artist’s colony and began his conversion to Impressionism. Upon his return to the United States, he captured the subtle beauty of the American landscape using the techniques he had learned in Europe. A showcase of the American painter’s work in 1890 was even heralded by the Boston Evening Transcript as the art sensation of the season.

Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, senior curator of American art at the Mint Museum and curator of this exhibition says, “I love the way Breck finds beauty in quiet, otherwise nondescript spots – little nooks along the Charles River in the outskirts of Boston, wildflowers in a field, or the first dusting of snow in central Massachusetts’ rolling hills.”

This exhibition is an incredible opportunity to see Breck’s groundbreaking paintings, to dive into the lush world of his landscapes, and to reflect upon your own relationship with the natural world.

“It gives our community the chance to view Breck’s amazing body of work,” said Figge Assistant Curator Vanessa Sage. “When looking at his paintings, you can sense how responsive he was to his surroundings and to nature. Hopefully, his work will inspire visitors to find a renewed appreciation for the environment in which we live.”

In celebration of this exhibition, the Figge wants your photographs of the natural world. Whether of the river, parks, or your own backyard. Share your images exploring natural areas with the Figge via email and they will be displayed on the Facebook page and on a flat screen slide show at the museum. 

We encourage you to explore our region and its natural areas. Show us where you find beauty in the world around you by emailing your photos along with your name to [email protected], or tag us on Instagram at #BreckFiggePhotography. More information can be found at www.figgeartmuseum.org.  

John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist is generously presented by Bank of America, with additional support provided by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Support for the exhibition at the Figge is provided by the premier sponsor Regional Development Authority, supporting sponsor: MidAmerican Energy, contributing sponsors: KK Runge Associates, Sue Quail, Rhythm City Casino Resort, TBK Bank, Xenotronics Company, Cathy Weideman and John Gardner and our media partner: QC Media Partners. John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist will be on view in the Figge’s third floor gallery through August 28, 2022.

Companion Programs:
Wednesday, June 1, 5-7 p.m.
John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist Member Opening
Figge members are invited to join us for a special evening in celebration of John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist featuring a reception and private tours of the exhibition with Figge assistant curator Vanessa Sage. This event is free for members and registration is required to attend. 

Thursday, June 2
Opening Program: John Leslie Breck
5 p.m. Cash bar
6:30 p.m. Curator Talk: Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman
Join Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint Museum’s Senior Curator of American, Modern, & Contemporary Art, as he explores Breck’s work within the context of both European and American Impressionism

Thursday, July 28
Scholar Talk: Amanda C. Burdan 6:30 p.m.
Amanda C. Burdan is senior curator at the Brandywine River Museum of Art and will speak about women artists and advocates, such as Lilla Cabot Perry, and how they contributed to the rise of American Impressionism

Thursday, Aug 11
Partner Program 6 p.m.
Drop by the Figge’s outdoor Bechtel Plaza and join community partners in celebrating art, nature, and the exhibition John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist.

About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is dedicated to bringing art and people together. Located on the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street, the Figge is the premier art exhibition and education facility between Chicago and Des Moines. Its landmark glass building, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections and presents world-class exhibitions, art classes, lectures, and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Museum hours are 10 a.m.­­-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are not required, but can be made at www.figgeartmuseum.org or by calling 563-345-6632. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID and $4 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings. You can become a member for as little as $50 by visiting the Figge website. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit www.figgeartmuseum.org

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