How can a museum exhibition tell a sweeping story of 300 years of social, historic, and artistic change? In Passport to Paris, we relied on three pretty amazing groups of art objects to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but art doesn’t always speak on its own. To help us tell the story, we turned to artists, critics, and even King Louis XIV. Here are ten quotes that you’ll find on the walls and labels in the Passport to Paris galleries. Many are from the Nature as Muse catalog (one of the three exhibitions in Passport to Paris, and others were the result of careful (and fun) research as we planned the exhibitions. For interesting facts on some of the artists in this exhibition, check out these artist profiles.
- “For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambiance, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet
- “The countryside only has its charms for those who are not obliged to live there.”—Édouard Manet
- “It is Vernet who knows how to gather storms, open a cataract in the sky and flood the earth.”—Denis Diderot, art critic
- “You come to nature with your theories, and she knocks them all flat.”—Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- “As soon as I got here I put myself out to the pastures . . . for the fruit trees are losing their blossoms and the early-blooming apple trees are in full flower; it’s splendid, but oh so fleeting!”—Camille Pissarro
- “You must be right out under the sky. You must try to match your colors as nearly as you can to those you see before you, and you must study the effects of light and shade on nature’s own hues and tints.”—William Merritt Chase
- “There is nothing that indicates more clearly the magnificence of great princes than their superb palaces and their precious furniture.”—Louis XIV, King of France
- “Antiquity has never ceased to be the great school for modern painters, the source of the beauties of their art . . . . Can we not take one step further, and imitate them also in their morals and the institutions established by them in order to bring the arts to a state of perfection?”—Jacques-Louis David
- “Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.”—Paul Cézanne
- “These middle-class men and women, walking on the pier towards the setting sun, have they no right to be fixed on canvas, to be brought to light?”—Eugène Boudin
Image credit: Camille Pissarro, Spring at Éragny, 1900. Bequest of Frederic C. Hamilton.