Image: detail of Alfred Sisley (1839–1899), 14 July at Marly, France, 1875, Oil on canvas © The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Showcasing a rare combination of French Impressionist paintings and sculpture, the exhibition included works spanning from the early 1860s to the beginning of the First World War, including world-renowned artists such as Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, all of whom exhibited in the very first Impressionist group exhibition in France.

Home to the movement, the idyllic French landscape made for a fitting subject for the spontaneous and unprompted method of working embraced by these artists.

By depicting equal parts painting and sculpture in this highly unusual display, works from lesser known sculptors such as Dalou were seen alongside more widely recognised works by Impressionist painters.


Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947), Grandmother and Child, 1894 © of Leeds Museums & Galleries and Bridgeman Images

The exhibition included paintings and sculptures spanning four key themes related to everyday occurrences: maternity, leisure, work and the home. Audience members could discover examples of paintings and sculptures that reflected each theme, arranged in the gallery into four easily-distinguishable sections.

Portraiture by Auguste Rodin and Pierre Bonnard was included in the maternity section, celebrating women as mothers and carers in intimate and delicate studies. From maternity, the exhibition transitioned through to looking closely at the quietly domestic, private lives of individuals in the home. In leisure, spectators watch the ballet, the circus and the races, and enjoy dances, as depicted in Edgar Degas' 'Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando' 1879. Serene apple-picking in the sunshine could be seen in Camille Pissarro's work, balanced alongside extraordinary sculptures by Dalou depicting the urban labourer.

Highlights of the exhibition included Alfred Sisley’s tranquil street scene, '14 July at Marly, France' and Pierre-Auguste Renoir's oil-painted 'A Woman Nursing a Child' dating back to 1894.

29 September 2018 – 13 January 2019