French Impressionism in the Midwest

The winter may not seem like travel season for some, but for the museum lover, the winter is an excellent time to explore the world without crowds. Americans don’t have to travel any further than Cincinnati, Ohio to experience the international premier of a French Impressionist exhibit that promises to be a first, as the primary subject of the exhibit, Charles Francois Daubigny (1817-78) has never been the subject of an international exhibition.

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From February 20-May 29, 2016, the Taft Museum, located at 316 Pike Street in downtown Cincinnati, with the leadership and vision of chief curator Dr. Lynne Ambrosini, will host the first and only showing of this exhibit in North America. The exhibit will travel later in the year to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Taft Museum and Daubigny Exhibition Curator Dr. Lynne Ambrosini
Taft Museum and Daubigny Exhibition Curator Dr. Lynne Ambrosini

Ambrosini hopes the show will revise art history concerning the origins of impressionism. “Daubigny is an unjustly forgotten artist whose influence directly affected impressionism,” Ambrosini believes. “He was the most daring painter of his time, adopting new pigments and new methods. He was the first to set up a studio on a boat, painting landscape from the water, looking back onto the land.”

A River Scene The Ferry at Bonnieres, 1861, Oil on Canvas, Charles-Francois Daubigny
A River Scene: The Ferry at Bonnieres, 1861, Oil on Canvas, Charles-Francois Daubigny

While this excursion is a definite must see for the art aficionado, it is also a no brainer for the explorer looking to broaden horizons and create new experiences. Cincinnati is a centrally located Midwest City with excellent airport and highway access. The winter exhibit starts between football and baseball season, meaning hotels will be plentiful, as Bengals and Reds fans won’t be competing for rooms. The downtown is filled with fabulous hotels.

For a historic focus, try the Cincinnatian at 601 Vine Street. If you want to stick with the art theme, the 21C Museum Hotel at 609 Walnut Street is the way to go. For those who want to use loyalty programs, all major chains have hotels in the area. There are over 30 Marriott branded hotels in greater Cincinnati, and the Residence Inn at 506 E. 4th Street is a stones throw from the Taft Museum. Opening day for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 is April 4, so a spring trip can accommodate a compromise between art lovers and sports fans.

While the exhibit has significant international importance, it is not a large, time consuming exhibit to view. The small, intimate show can be seen in an hour. The rest of the museum can be viewed in another hour. The museum restaurant will feature a special French themed menu during the Daubigny exhibit including crepes, croque monsieur, and quiche.

The museum itself is of historic significance. The 1820’s home is a National Historic Landmark. It was the home of Charles and Ann Taft, President William Howard Taft’s half brother and his wife.

Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

Complimenting this exhibit, the Cincinnati Art Museum, located at 953 Eden Park Drive will be hosting a Daubigny Etching Show. The Contemporary Arts Center, at 44 E. Sixth Street, is walking distance from the Taft. All three museums are in the North American Reciprocal Museum program. Your local art museum membership may admit you for free. There can be additional charges for special exhibits. There are so many different membership types, so checking the websites or calling ahead for clarification will help the savvy traveler understand what perks are included.

There is more than enough to see and do for a long, museum binge weekend. Whether a family trip, a girlfriend getaway or a romantic rendezvous are over due, spending time with the landscapes of Charles Francois Daubigny will engage the senses and brush away the winter blahs.

Victoria Hart
Victoria Hart

Victoria Hart travels the world looking for interesting life experiences. She loves to share her travel tips, bargains and strategies with her friends and family. Inspiring others to create their own adventures is her passion. Victoria’s desire to inspire a larger audience lead her to embark on a career in travel writing.

When Victoria unpacks her suitcase, she calls Dublin, Ohio home, where she lives with her husband John. Born in Los Angeles, California, Vicky’s family moved frequently, including stops in Wisconsin, England, Florida, Boston, Washington DC and Saudi Arabia. Vicky spent a summer term studying at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

She holds a B.S. in Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Victoria welcomes your comments at [email protected]

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