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A Virtual Adventure Through French Impressionism at The National Gallery of Art

A Virtual Adventure Through French Impressionism at The National Gallery of Art


Life right now is…complicated, to say the least. Our personal and professional worlds are colliding and shrinking as we observe social distancing mandates. We have consolidated our jobs, social lives, and families into a single operation that launches daily from our living rooms. For most of us, it sounds as wild and hectic as it is in practice.


We’ve got a solution for you, though. Or, a respite at least. A dreamy (and virtual) stroll through French Impressionism and its many landscapes at the National Gallery of Art.


And we know how French Impressionism may sound – formal, stiff, maybe a bit dull – but these artists were the rebels and bad boys of their generation. In a way, the paintings that emerged during French Impressionism have never been more relevant than they are today. They are everything that art can and should be: emotive, joyful, experiential, effortless. The list goes on.


The bottom line, they make getting outside of your living room effortless.

Our National Gallery of Art French Impressionism Tour: The Closest Thing to Teleportation There is 


If you’re dreaming of the day when you can finally take a vacation, we feel you. We’re all in the same boat. While teleportation technology isn’t quite ready to drop you directly into a French garden, a tour of the National Gallery of Art’s French Impressionism is the next best thing.


What can you expect from this virtual vacation at the National Gallery of Art? Plenty of sunshine, nature, energy, and joy. French Impressionism paintings were done outside (en plein air) with a speed that reflected the changes in the natural environment. Artists painted what they saw and experienced, not just what they knew to be true. That’s why the sky in John La Farge’s The Entrance to the Tautira River is softened with light violet and feels as accurate and nostalgic as a photograph. We all know that the sky is blue, but it looked lilac at that moment.

If that magical quality of French Impressionism doesn’t drown out the noise of your kids screaming and emails flooding your inbox, we don’t know what will.


The Leisure Time in French Impressionism: The Light and Energy We All Need Right Now


In this sense, the work that sprung up in the French Impressionism era is everything that we want and need during this pandemic. The colors, brushstrokes, and outside settings of these paintings have energy and vibrance that boost our moods and bring us outside of ourselves (and our living rooms).


Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Orchard is covered in distinct, swirling brushstrokes that pull us upwards and inwards, into his world. These women amongst the trees come alive, and it’s like you’re standing beside Van Gogh as he surveys the landscape. Deep violet marks sit next to soft beige ones, and yet it feels so real that you can almost reach down and touch the soil.


The light and color reflecting off the water’s surface in Gustave Caillebotte’s Skiffs makes you want to dip your toes beneath the waves as you ease down the river. He captures the movement of a canoe cutting across the gentle swells of water so realistically that suddenly, you feel compelled to buy a kayak on Amazon. Trust us, we know the feeling well (but maybe hold off on that for now).


These paintings bring us all back to simpler times and immerse us in nature. You can almost see the flick of a painter’s wrist as their eyes dart across an ever-changing sky and feel the tingle of sunshine on the skin of their hands as they move across the canvas.

SAM Tours Creative Adventures: Your New Best Friend During Quarantine


Without a doubt, we all wish that we could see the French Impressionism paintings for ourselves at the National Gallery of Art. Whether the halls of the National Gallery of Art and the city streets of Washington D.C. are new adventures or home sweet home, we all long for them.

This virtual vacation outside, though, is grand for now.


In the face of social distancing, SAM Tours is still committed to sharing and enjoying the arts that are woven into the very fabric of our Washington D.C. community. Join us as we meander through a colorful garden, enjoy leisure time in the sunshine, pluck fresh fruits from endless orchard fields, and float gently along a river in the great outdoors.


Better yet, stay safe, healthy, and home as you explore.