Free Screening of The Impressionists at the Clark September 9

For Immediate Release

August 27, 2007

Impressionist painters’ rivalries, romances, and struggles for recognition make up The Impressionists, a fascinating factual drama produced in 2006 for BBC ONE. Catch a free screening of this series on Sunday, September 9 from 1 to 4 pm, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Before or after the film, make a last minute visit to the blockbuster exhibition The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings to see many of Monet’s rarely seen works on paper including caricatures, masterful drawings, exquisite pastels, and famous paintings. This exhibition, containing many works from private collections, closes on September 16.

To modern eyes, Impressionist paintings possess a familiar, well-loved beauty—Monet's exquisite water lilies, Renoir's smiling girls, and Degas’ delicate ballerinas. To contemporaries, Impressionist paintings were seen as scandalous and heretical. On their first appearance in Paris in the 1870s, the paintings caused outrage in the art world, were viciously denounced by critics and rejected by the public.

The Impressionists (2006, 180 minutes, not rated), a three part factual drama, vividly reconstructs the movement's remarkable story. Based on archive letters, records and interviews from the time, the series records the lives of Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, and Manet. It is a tale of poverty and of a struggle for recognition, set against a backdrop of war and revolution. But at the heart is the brotherhood of artists bound by enduring friendships and their commitment to a new type of art, which survived rows, rivalries, duels, and crises. The story is led by the paintings. Some of the world's most memorable art works are recreated here following the same techniques that the artists used at the time.

The series reveals how Monet took just 40 minutes to paint his seminal work Impression: Sunrise in a race against time to capture the light; why Manet's depiction of Olympia, in which his model brazenly gazes out of the canvas, so outraged Parisian society; and how Cézanne's 60 paintings of one mountain, Montagne Saint-Victoire, laid the foundations for cubism and modern art.

Julian Glover (Waking the Dead, Troy, Star Wars) plays 80-year-old Monet, the "father of Impressionism" and narrator of the series. Young Monet is played by Richard Armitage (North and South). Richly woven with quotes from primary sources, the series captures artists' idiosyncrasies—Cézanne's hatred of barking dogs, Monet's flamboyant dress sense, and Degas' irritability—to bring the story of the Impressionists to life. The Impressionists was beautifully shot on location in Provence and Normandy, at Monet's garden at Giverny, and in locations in the UK.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, MA. The galleries are open daily in July and August, 10 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays September 4 through June). The Clark is open on Labor Day, Monday, September 3 from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and under, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


Return to the previous page