Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: the masterpieces of the Mellon collection on display in Padua

A must-see event to discover the art masterpieces acquired by Mr. and Ms. Mellon, two of the most renowned American art collectors of the 20th century.

From 26 October 2019 to 01 March 2020

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This autumn, Padua is filled with art and colors thanks to the exclusive exhibition at Palazzo Zabarella titled ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas. The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts', which will open its doors on October 26, 2019 and run through until March 1, 2020.

The exhibition, organized by the Bano Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Colleen Yarger (curator of the catalog of the Mellon Collection), will bring for the first time to Italy the works collected by two of the most refined art patrons of the 20th century, spouses Paul Mellon and Rachel 'Bunny' Lambert. This incredible collection features a large number of precious works spanning the period of time from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, taking in romanticism, impressionism and cubism.

The 'Van Gogh, Monet, Degas' exhibition in Padua in 2019 will exhibit as many as 70 works by artists the likes of Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh and many others, all coming from the Mellon Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

But who were the Mellons? The Mellons were a married couple known for their heartfelt passion for art and their quality as patrons: Paul Mellon was the son of entrepreneur Andrew Mellon, who was also a banker and Treasury of the United States Secretary (as well an important art collector himself and instrumental in the foundation of the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1937). While studying at Yale and Cambridge, he became passionate about English art, but it was only after marrying Bunny Lambert, an art lover and convinced Francophile , that the Mellons began to purchase French art masterpieces.

The ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas’ exhibition at Zabarella Palace in Padua shows all the works that the spouses donated to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond: they are masterpieces of French art that demonstrate their exceptional collecting flair and their personal sensitivity and passion for this artistic style. The exhibition opens with 'Mounted Jockey' by Théodore Géricault and 'Young Woman Watering a Shrub' by Berthe Morisot, which define the birth and formation of the Mellon collection. On the one hand, Paul Mellon was a lover of horses and the fact that Géricault had been to England to study the works of George Stubbs, one of his favorite painters of animals, played a fundamental role in his interest in French art. On the other hand, the passion of his wife Rachel is reflected in the work of the French author who portrays his sister while nursing the plants in her family home. A painting that highlights the simple pleasure of domestic life thanks to the notes of softness in the pictorial technique and the clear chromatic tones.

The ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas’ exhibition in 2019 in Padua leads the visitor along a path that includes, first of all, the display of some examples of French art with an equestrian subject, including the horse portraits of Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault and scenes of Edgar Degas horse racing competitions. Next are paintings of still life, or flowers, paintings by masters such as Alfred Sisley, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon, which testify to the passion that Rachel Lambert Mellon cultivated for gardening and horticulture.

The Padua exhibition in 2019 on 'Van Gogh, Monet and Degas' is an infused with romantic Parisian atmospheres: in fact, much attention is dedicated precisely to Paris which, besides being the city that inspired artists the most, is the place to which the spouses Melon remained intimately and particularly close to during their entire life. This is exemplified by the works of painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard and Maurice Utrillo, which present both famous and little-known views, places of celebration and glimpses of the streets and alleys of the French capital. The exhibition continues with an analysis of the pictures of human figures and portraits by the masters Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne and others, in which people are not painted in formal stances, rather in places such as their homes, gardens or in social contexts. Next is a fascinating section dedicated to the play of light reflected in the water that creates a magical atmosphere thanks to the immediacy and vibrancy of impressionist works including 'A Man Docking His Skiff' by Gustave Caillebotte, in which the artist reveals his great ability to capture bright spots and shadows, without forgetting the paintings by Eugène Boudin, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot that portray life on the beaches at the beginning of the past century.

The exhibition also delves into one of the many of Bunny Mellon’s passions: home décor expressed in the works of artists such as Felix Vallotton, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, Raoul Dufy and their house interiors depiction. Among these, we point out ‘The Chinese Chest of Drawers’, a Cubist still-life masterpiece by Pablo Picasso.

Finally, the visitors will find themselves strolling in the French countryside admiring works such as Claude Monet's ‘Field of Poppies, Giverny’, featuring a large red band that divides the background from the foreground, or as small paintings by Georges Seurat, Kees van Dongen and Vincent van Gogh that transform the rural landscape into an amazing harmony of energy, light and color. The Zabarella Palace exhibition in 2019 in Padua ends with a selection of Impressionist works, with two landscape views by Monet, a Renoir’s portrait and one of Degas' famous dancers.

Do not miss this journey through the countryside and the Parisian alleys of the wonderful Mellons’ collection: the exhibition ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas. The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ is waiting for you at Palazzo Zabarella in Padua from October 26, 2019 to March 1, 2020. Make the most of this event by combining it with a visit to the best sites of the city of Padua! Book one of our guided Venetoinside tours in Padua!



Opening times Palazzo Zabarella - ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas’ exhibition.

Daily from 9.30 to 19.00 (last admission at 18.15)

By Insidecom Editorial Staff