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America’s love affair with Impressionism in new documentary The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism

From Exhibition on Screen, the creators of Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, comes a new film exploring how the relationship between art and gardening blossomed across the pond.

The Artist’s Garden tells the intertwining stories of American Impressionism and The Garden Movement which flourished between 1887–1920.

Both movements responded to rapid social change brought about by America’s industrialisation. With increasing urbanisation prompting the emerging middle-class to seek refuge in the suburbs, they began to spend their free time and wealth cultivating impressive private gardens.

When French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel brought a selection of impressionist paintings to New York in 1886, he changed the course of art in America entirely.

Many American artists, inspired by what they saw, made the pilgrimage to study in Monet’s Giverny, and were keen to employ their experience to capture America’s own unique landscapes. In doing so, they captured a unique moment in America’s history – a snapshot of a nation transitioning from a land of agriculture to a land of industry.

The Artist’s Garden follows the sell-out exhibition The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920, on its journey from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to the ‘home’ of the movement – Florence Griswold’s colony at Old Lyme. Famed as a “place for high thinking and low living”, the colony attracted a host of influential painters including Henry Ward Ranger and Willard Metcalf.

Narrated by Gillian Anderson, the film includes contributions from Anna Marley, curator of the original exhibition, and Amy Kurz Lansing and Jenny Parsons from the Florence Griswold museum.

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Audiences will also be taken to Appledore Island, run by poet Celia Thaxter, where pre- eminent impressionist Childe Hassam produced 300 works over three decades.

The film reveals how Celia Thaxter and other American women saw the garden not only as a beautiful oasis but an important political space for women. As gardening’s popularity rose, women began to take on new professionalised roles, from garden design to horticultural writing, and lead activist movements to protect native species.

The Artist’s Garden offers an pportunity to get up-close to the greatest examples of American Impressionism, and to understand the unique cultural moment in which they were produced.

The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism is in cinemas nationwide from March 21. Find a screen near you

(from a press release)