This talk examines the representation of families in Impressionism. It first explains why family ties became so important in the formation of modern identity in France in the late 19th century. Drawing on comparisons with photographic family portraits from the time, it then reveals how Impressionist imagery created a new, modern model of the nuclear family as a secular community celebrating individualism and egalitarianism. The talk looks in detail at family images by four Impressionist painters ' Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot ' to see how they interpreted their own family relations in very different and sometimes surprising ways.
Greg Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Harvard University and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at The University of Hong Kong. A specialist in 19th-century French art, he has published "Art and Ecology in 19th-Century France: The Landscapes of Th'odore Rousseau" (Princeton University Press, 2000) and will soon publish a new book, entitled "Impressionist Children: Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art", with Yale University Press. Dr. Thomas has also lectured and published on European interactions with China and is the assistant editor of the 13-volume "Wuming (No Name) Painting Catalogue", recently published by The Hong Kong University Press.