Jan Brueghel the Younger, The Five Senses: Sight, c. 1625, Oil on panel, 27 5/8 x 44 5/8 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection

PORTLAND, ORE.- This fall, the Portland Art Museum is the first venue of a major touring exhibition exploring the evolution of European and American landscape painting. Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection features 39 paintings from five centuries of masterpieces drawn from the collection of Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. 


Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking South-East from San Stae to the Fabbriche Nuove di Rialto, c. 1738, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 30 5/8 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

This exhibition is co-organized by Portland Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum, in collaboration with the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, and presents masterpieces spanning nearly four hundred years—from Jan Brueghel the Younger’s series devoted to the five senses to Canaletto’s celebrated views of Venice to landscapes by innovators ranging from Joseph Mallord William Turner, Paul Cézanne, and Gustav Klimt to David Hockney and Gerhard Richter. Paintings by Thomas Moran, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe, and others provide an American perspective on landscapes at home and abroad. Seeing Nature includes five Impressionist canvases painted in France, London, and Venice by the French master Claude Monet.  


 Joseph Mallord William Turner, Depositing of John Bellini’s Three Pictures in La Chiesa Redentore, Venice, 1841, Oil on canvas, 29 x 45 1/2 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

Seeing Nature offers an extraordinary opportunity to perceive the world through the gaze of some of the most important artists in history,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director of the Portland Art Museum, who is curating the exhibition in Portland. “These masterpieces have never before been on display together. Paul Allen is one of the Northwest’s most significant art collectors and philanthropists, and his willingness to share his landscape masterpieces with our visitors offers an unprecedented chance to be inspired by works of art.”  


Edouard Manet, View in Venice-The Grand Canal, 1874, Oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18 3/4 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection

The exhibition premiered at the Portland Art Museum on October 10, 2015. It next travels to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the New Orleans Museum of Art before closing at the Seattle Art Museum in early 2017. 

Seeing Nature explores the development of landscape painting from a small window on the world to expressions of artists’ experiences with their surroundings on land and sea. 


Claude Monet, En Paysage dans l’île Saint-Martin, 1881, Oil on canvas, 28 13/16 x 23 5/8 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

The exhibition reveals the power of landscape to locate the viewer in time and place—to record, explore, and understand the natural and man-made world. Artists began to interpret the specifics of a picturesque city, a parcel of land, or dramatic natural phenomena. 


Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, 1903, Oil on canvas, 42 1/4 x 42 1/4 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

In the 19th century, the early Impressionists focused on direct observation of nature. This collection is particularly strong in the works of Monet: five great Monet landscapes spanning thirty years are featured, from views of the French countryside to one of his late immersive representations of water lilies, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1919. Cézanne and his fellow Post-Impressionists used a more frankly subjective approach to create works such as La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888-90). The exhibition also features a rare landscape masterpiece by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest of 1903.  


Claude Monet, Le bassin aux nymphéas, 1919, Oil on canvas, 39 1/2 x 79 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection

The last part of the exhibition explores the paintings of artists working in the complexity of the 20th century. In highly individualized ways, artists as diverse as Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Gerhard Richter and Ed Ruscha bring fresh perspectives to traditional landscape subjects. 


Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset, 1909, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.


Max Ernst, Paysage avec lac et chimères, c. 1940, Oil on canvas, 20 x 26 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.


Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Iris VI, 1936, Oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.


David Hockney, The Grand Canyon, 1998, Oil on canvas, 48 1/2 x 169 1/2 inches, Paul G. Allen Family Collection.