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Summer Lovin’ at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Memorial Day is upon us and with it time to reflect on the bravery of the men and women who lost their lives defending our country as a part of the armed forces. It is because of their sacrifice that we are able to enjoy the freedoms we have today, including the independence that comes along the upcoming season. Yes, it is finally (albeit unofficially) here, the time of year that demands sunnies, swimsuits and a sigh of relief: summer.

Immediately you may think of the sunlit atrium, Parade the Circle or the beautiful views from the 1916 building front entrance, but you’d be wrong (just about as wrong as the first glimpse of my Cleveland skin in the summer light). My inspiration can be found in Gallery 220, leisurely leaning on a floral couch. It is James Tissot’s Seaside (July: Specimen of a Portrait), 1878 that reminds me of all that is so right about this time of year.

Now, I don’t know about you, but there are just some pieces of art that suck me in and let me stay awhile – and for me this has always been one of them. Once there, I join Kathleen Newton (Tissot’s British mistress, how summer lovin’ of him) on the plush couch to enjoy the warm breeze coming off the ocean and watch as the fabric of her dress reacts to its arrival. We breathe in the salt water air and consider tracking down iced tea to sip while we casually discuss her lurid affair. Agreeing that it is much too much effort to get up from our comfy positions, I ask her to pass me a pillow and we drift off into our own thoughts as Tissot begins painting his next masterpiece, aptly named:  Seaside 2 (My Mistress and a Strange American Intruder Showing Far Too Much Skin).”

See below for more summer inspiration and tell us how you would get lost in your favorite painting by posting below or Tweeting @ClevelandArt. Better yet, come by the museum and let your imagination go wild.

Seaside (July: Specimen of a Portrait),1878, James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Oil on fabric, Framed - h:112.08 w:85.41 d:6.35 cm (h:44 1/8 w:33 5/8 d:2 1/2 inches) Unframed - h:87.50 w:61.00 cm (h:34 7/16 w:24 inches). Bequest of Noah L. Butkin 1980.288.

Sunday Afternoon in the Country, 1917, Florine Stettheimer (American, 1871-1944). Oil on canvas, Framed - h:139.00 w:103.51 d:8.30 cm (h:54 11/16 w:40 3/4 d:3 1/4 inches)Unframed - h:128.00 w:92.50 cm (h:50 3/8 w:36 3/8 inches). Gift of Ettie Stettheimer 1948.28.

Nyack, 1966-1967. Fairfield Porter (American, 1907-1975). Oil on canvas, Framed - h:211.00 w:283.00 d:4.00 cm (h:83 1/16 w:111 3/8 d:1 9/16 inches)  Unframed - h:208.30 w:279.40 cm (h:82 w:110 inches). Contemporary Collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 1968.3.

Summer, 1891. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, 1824-1898). Oil on fabric, Framed - h:189.54 w:270.51 d:14.60 cm (h:74 9/16 w:106 1/2 d:5 11/16 inches) Unframed - h:149.60 w:232.40 cm (h:58 7/8 w:91 7/16 inches). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1056

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Guest Author

Julie Van Vliet

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Julie Van Vliet is a progressive communications professional who has worked both in the United States and abroad. She is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio where she is also a Cleveland Museum of Art Volunteer in the Communications and Marketing department.

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