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48 Impressionism masterpieces showcased at Museum of Art from tomorrow

An unprecedented exhibition, "Impressionism: Treasures from the National Collection of France", to be held from tomorrow (February 5) to April 10 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, will give people an opportunity to discover the uniqueness and richness of Impressionism through the 48 masterpieces on display.

The exhibition was officially opened today (February 4) by the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa. Other officiating guests included the Consul-General of France in Hong Kong, Mr Serge Mostura; Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping; the Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, Mr David Eldon; the Regional Managing Director, Asia, Japan and Australasia, Moet Hennessy Asia Pacific, Mr Mark F Bedingham; the President of the Public Company of the Musee d' Orsay, Mr Serge Lemoine; the President of the Honorary Committee (Hong Kong) of the Year of France in China, Dr David Li Kwok-po; and the General Secretary of the Association Francaise d'Action Artistique, Mr Dimitry Ovtchinnikoff.

As a highlight programme of "The Year of France in China", which was organised to strengthen the cultural exchange between China and France, the exhibition was arranged to tour to three cities in China - Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The masterpieces by 13 internationally acclaimed Impressionists on show were selected from the prestigious Musee d' Orsay in Paris and other major French museums, revealing the impressive diversity of Impressionism and the different stages of this movement. Star exhibits include Edouard Manet's "The Fifer", Edgar Degas' "The Dance Class" and "In a Cafe, the Absinthe", Claude Monet's "Rouen Cathedral, the Portal, Harmony in Brown" and "Water Lilies", Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Woman, Torso in the Sun", as well as works by Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cezanne and others.

The Impressionist period is one of the most fascinating and appreciated in the history of modern art world-wide. During the movement's birth and blossoming in the second half of the 19th century, however, the "new painting"' was so shockingly modern that it took more than 30 years for contemporaries to simply understand the work.

Impressionism favoured festive subjects as expressed in the leisure activities of the day, scenes of natural beauty and the ceaseless study of how light plays upon the objects of the world in each passing moment.

The movement was officially born in April, 1874, the date of the first Impressionist exhibition, featuring the work of 31 artists in studio on Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. Claude Monet's painting "Impression: Sunrise", dating back to 1872-1873, was the object of a critic's derisory comment who coined the term "impressionist", which was later adopted by the movement as its name. Impressionism, then, became the artistic expression of "impressions" provoked by objects and the light emanating from them.

Today, Impressionism appears far removed from the atmosphere of revolt and scandal which accompanied its birth. Since their entry into the museums at the end of the 19th century, Impressionist works of art have received enthusiastic approval from art enthusiasts, collectors and visitors alike.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French Ministry of Culture and Communication and Consulate General of France in Hong Kong, the "Impressionism: Treasures from the National Collection of France" exhibition is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Association Francaise d'Action Artistique and Musee d' Orsay. It has also been made possible in the People's Republic of China - Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong - with the generous support of LVMH/Moet Hennessy.Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior and in Hong Kong with the most generous support of HSBC.

To enhance viewers' appreciation of the exhibits and their understanding of the Impressionism movement, "The World of Impressionists" education gallery with introductory text, video programmes, relevant books and specially designed games are set up. Audio guides, talks, a demonstration and workshops, as well as on-site education kits and on-site sketching activities will also be available during the exhibition period.

In addition, a mini exhibition and book display on Impressionism will be held at the Arts Resource Centre of Hong Kong Central Library. For details, please call 2921 0259.

A fully illustrated catalogue will be available at the Gift Shop of the Museum of Art.

"Impressionism: Treasures from the National Collection of France" exhibition will open from 10am to 8pm daily and from 10am to 6pm on Chinese New Year's Eve and the first two days of Chinese New Year. The museum will open as usual from 10am to 8pm on the third day of Chinese New Year. It will be closed on Thursdays, except public holidays.

Admission for this exhibition will be $30 from Friday to Tuesday, and $20 on Wednesdays. A half-price concession is available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, full-time students and people with disabilities. For any purchase of 20 regular tickets or more, admission is $21 each from Friday to Tuesday, and $14 each on Wednesdays.

The Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. For details of the exhibition, visit the Museum of Art's website at . For enquiries, call 2721 0116.

Ends/Friday, February 4, 2005

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