Enjoy a guided walking tour of the Library of Congress by taking a look at the iconic fountain, and several famous sculptures that adorn the exterior before we head inside our nation’s storied library.
See calendar as tour dates vary
Meets inside lower level entrance at Constitution Avenue NW
Limited to 20 participants
- Adult & Senior
Discover Washington, D.C.’s Impressionism Art
Explore the beauty of French Impressionism and Post Impressionism with our guided, small-group tour at the National Gallery of Art. Our 2-hour odyssey begins at the lower level constitution Avenue entrance to the National Gallery of Art. We will start the tour by taking a look at the iconic sculpture Little Dancer before moving into the National Gallery of Art Impressionism Exhibit Hall.
If you think your local art gallery is cutthroat, wait until you meet the French Salon of the early 1860s. It was a time when politics were as heavy and complicated as a layered chiffon skirt, and art was created and sold in the most structured ways. The change was ripe to occur. The art scene would be turned upside down by a group of unlikely renegades: a group of artists known as the French Impressionists. The artists of this French Impressionism movement were the radical and revolutionary thinkers of 19th century Paris. They rejected the conventional approaches of popular painters because they felt that art should reflect the world they experienced.
The work that emerged from these rogue painters was infused with lightness, energy, informality, and authenticity. Why? Because these artists of French Impressionism painted En Plein Air: they went out into the landscapes from which they were working to observe and paint the changing light and colors in real-time. The Impressionism art definition is widely talked about, and it is one of the most popular and beloved art movements to date. The National Gallery of Art has spectacular Impressionism and Post Impressionism artworks that will change the way you understand the Impressionism art definition.
We will walk you through the rise and fall of this fabulous art scene by looking at several iconic artists and their work:
Claude Monet lived from 1840-1926 and, in his life, changed the act of painting forever. Throughout our French Impressionism art tour, your tour guide, Meghan, will show you his painterly evolution and the shifts from traditionalism to radicalism in his approach. You will see the stark contrast of Bazille and Camille (Study for “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe”) (1865) and The House of Parliament, Sunset (1903). While he is famous for his waterlily paintings, Claude Monet brought peace and authenticity to all of his compositions through careful attention to light and color.
Auguste Renoir was a contemporary and friend of Claude Monet. The two men met in art school and then later staged the first French Impressionism exhibition together, along with several other contemporaries, in the spring of 1874. Renoir, unlike Monet, was much more engaged with figurative and portraiture work. Perhaps his most famous works, Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (1876) and Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1881), dealt with moving figures and shifting light. The paintings are like photographs of a moment in time; we all get to go back to that cultural and historical moment. Renoir was unique in that his work returned to a much more traditional, classical style after his French Impressionism art. Follow the arc of his post Impressionism art and the shifts in his color and compositional choices.
George Seurat was alive from 1859-1891 and, in his brief lifetime, made an indelible mark on painting. Though his collection of works is somewhat limited, he was a major Post Impressionist painter. He made revolutionary strides in the art of pointillism, a method of painting consisting of millions of tiny vibrant and colorful dots being laid in strategic coordinating sections. The result of this pointillism technique was an optical illusion that creates convincing landscapes.
While he was a troubled man for most of his life (he’s known for cutting off his ear), Vincent Van Gogh was also perhaps the most famous Post Impressionism painter of the movement. His work catapulted the art world from French Impressionism to Post Impressionism with ease. The differences between French Impressionism and Post Impressionism can be tricky to decipher. Vincent Van Gogh, George Seurat, and their contemporaries reacted to the stylistic choices of French Impressionism’s painters. In response, they created fascinating extensions and translations of the French Impressionism principles and ideas. As you will learn about George Seurat’s pointillism, you will learn about Vincent Van Gogh’s bold colors, thick paint application, and diverse compositions.
Amidst the stories of these four significant artists, Meghan will weave together the works and lives of other influential French Impressionists and Post Impressionists, including Edouard Manet, Eugene Boudin, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissaro, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Our small group will discover the close friendships, few power brokers, and technical advances that allowed this powder keg of innovation to explode in the late 19th century.
Meghan is an expert tour guide who is passionate about exploring and sharing the interplay between life and art. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Indiana University with a focus on Museum Studies and a minor in Art History. Before moving to Washington D.C., Meghan spent several years as the Guest Services Coordinator for the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House in Chicago, IL. She brings with her a deep appreciation and expansive knowledge of art, architecture, and history.
I started becoming a tour guide in 2017, before that I enjoyed guiding out of town family and friends. My favorite place to give tours is really the NGA. It’s usually not too crowded. I don’t have to compete with traffic noise and I have time to talk about themes and connections. I visit Glenstone, The Walters, MoMa, Philips, Renwick, The Met the other DC galleries, and the Sistine Chapel. I am booked on a tour to see the Louvre, Orsay, Marmottan, Orangerie, and Giverny which has now been postponed until 2021. My favorite painting changes based on new discoveries and my mood. I will have to think about that. I do like those very old French paintings in Lascaux.
The spread of COVID-19 has upended daily life and hit us all with unprecedented levels of isolation and uncertainty. During these trying times, we are still committed to sharing and appreciating art and culture. We know the healing power and joy that can be found in art, history, and creativity. Experience the color, innovation, and vitality of French Impressionism from your living room with our virtual French Impressionism art tour. Tour guides Meghan Hanson and Mike Burns will take you on an adventure through time and space in this 1-hour virtual Zoom tour. We are committed to connecting with our clients and helping them enjoy art, history, and culture while observing social distancing orders.
The National Gallery of Art has numerous locations along Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue NW. Please note that there is no parking at the museum, so plan your transportation accordingly. Admission to the National Gallery of Art is free, so there will be no additional fees after you reserve your spot in our French Impressionism art tour.
The National Gallery of Art is home to over 150,000 revolutionary paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings that are testaments to the power of creativity. In addition to several buildings, the National Gallery of Art also has a 6-acre sculpture garden with large-scale 3D work for you to explore. In one breadth, the National Gallery of Art captures the distinct spirit of Washington D.C. as well as the global history of art-making and sharing.
This tour is a private program, neither affiliated with nor endorsed by the National Gallery of Art. Admission to the National Gallery of Art and to all its exhibitions, tours and other public educational programs is free of charge. Any charge or request for contribution is unrelated to the National Gallery of Art. For information about the Gallery please see: http://www.nga.gov.