Released October 15, 2013

Monet, Renoir and Matisse paint the life aquatic

On view November 9, 2013 - February 17, 2014

SALEM, MA - The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) opens an exhibition that demonstrates why Impressionism continues to fascinate and intrigue over a century later. With more than 90 paintings, prints, models and photographs, Impressionists on the Water tells the story of how living near France's waterways and oceans influenced one of the world's most enduring artistic movements. The sparkle and play of light on water proved irresistible to key Impressionists. Rippling seas, dancing reflections and sailboats propelled by strong winds animate the art of Manet, Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Sisley, Seurat, Signac and many others on view at PEM from November 9, 2013 to February 17, 2014.  

"While the Impressionists have been popularly celebrated for generations, this exhibition introduces aspects of their work not often explored," said Daniel Finamore, PEM's Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History. "Rather than viewing Impressionism as a moment of schism and revolution, we see how artists handled maritime subject matter from the birth of the movement, through its creative evolution and the lasting impact of the Impressionists' vision of the sea in art."

Through this exhibition, we gain an appreciation for the inherent sensitivity that Impressionist artists showed for both the qualities of water and the appearance of the boats. Not weighed down by history, they painted what they saw and articulated it as a wholly modern subject. The juxtaposition of paintings and models allow us to observe how the artists interpreted forms of specific boats, as well as appreciate how that interpretation varied from more traditional maritime art of the day.  

Artists and sailors

The faithful representation of watercraft - apparent despite the freehandedness of technique -  owes much to the artists' accomplishments as sailors and yachtsmen spending many hours at sea, on riverboats, leisure craft and floating studios.

Among the most skilled was Gustave Caillebotte. A sailor, boat designer and successful racer, he depicted the watercraft and nautical conditions he experienced at his family's estate on the banks of the Seine. Caillebotte is considered France's most successful yachtsman-artist of the 19th century, responsible for the design and creation of nearly 25 boats. He depicted his boating prowess in his 1893 work, Regatta at Argenteuil - himself at the helm, striking a nonchalant pose as he steers the sailboat's tiller with remarkable ease, using just a fingertip.

Inspired by the example of Charles-François Daubigny's floating studio, Monet built his own studio boat in the mid-1870s to be ever closer to the water. The vessel, depicted at its mooring in his 1874 painting, gave the artist a near-waterline perspective of the landscape, and the atmospheric conditions of the river environment. That singular perspective - a framing of light, water and sky - is celebrated throughout this exhibition.


Organizing co-curators for Impressionists on the Water are Christopher Lloyd, former Surveyor of Queen Elizabeth II's collection; Phillip Dennis Cate, former director of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University; and Daniel Charles, author and historian of marine technology. Daniel Finamore, PEM's Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, is coordinating curator.


Impressionists on the Water is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Support provided by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional support provided by the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Sponsored by:

Media Partners:

PRESS PREVIEW: Thursday, November 7, 2013 | 9:30 AM BREAKFAST | 10 AM REMARKS | 10:30 AM TOUR

Please join us for a breakfast and exhibition preview tour with curator Dan Finamore. RSVP to Dinah Cardin by November 1 at or 978-745-9500, ext. 3230.

OPENING FESTIVAL: Sunday, November 10 | 11 am-4:30 pm

GALLERY TALK: Up Close with the Artists | 11 am, meet at information desk

Join Impressionists on the Water co-curator and art historian Christopher Lloyd for a tour of the paintings, prints, models and photographs on view.

PRESENTATION: Making an Impression | 1:30-2:30 pm, Morse Auditorium

Exhibition co-curator Christopher Lloyd explains the vision behind the exhibition and highlights key works. He's joined for a brief conversation and Q&A by PEM's Daniel Finamore, The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History and coordinating curator of Impressionists on the Water.

ART MAKING: Rope Something Together | 1-4 pm, Atrium

Learn some simple knotting techniques and then create your own Turk's Head bracelet.

FILM: The Impressionists: Painting and Revolution, The Great Outdoors | 3:30-4:30 pm, Morse Auditorium Art critic, writer and filmmaker Waldemar Januszczak visits the vistas, often along the water's edge, that inspired Impressionist artists.

IMAGE CREDIT: Boats Moored at Le Petit-Gennevilliers (traditionally Sailboats on the Seine), 1874, Claude Monet. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Gift of Bruno and Sadie Adriani 1962.23. ©Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


Founded in 1799, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents outstanding works of artistic and cultural creativity in ways that transform people's lives. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture as well as outstanding Asian, Asian export, Native American, African, Oceanic, maritime and photography collections. In addition to its vast holdings, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and an interactive education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. Currently, a comprehensive $650 million Campaign is underway to advance PEM's mission, fortify its endowment, improve infrastructure and build a 175,000-square-foot expansion.

HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm and the third Thursday of every month until 9:30 pm. Closed Mondays (except holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

ADMISSION: Adults $18; seniors $15; students $10. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 17 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit our Web site at


PR Contacts:

April Swieconek  -  Director of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3109  -

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Director of Communications  -  978-542-1828  -

Dinah Cardin  -  Press Officer / Special Projects Writer  -  978-542-1830  -

‹ Back To Press Releases