Brush Up on Your Art History at NCC Lecture

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Byline: Carla Labunski Daily Herald Staff Writer

The soft colors and brush strokes of the French Impressionists - Monet, Sisley, Cezanne and Renoir - are easy on most modern eyes.

But the painters shocked 19th-century viewers with their rebellion against traditional subjects and style.

"Looking at a work of art is a confrontation," said Thomas Rowlands, assistant professor of art history at North Central College in Naperville.

"The artist is trying to change your mind about something," he said. "The best artists change your way of seeing things."

In anticipation of the upcoming Renoir exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, Rowlands will present a lecture "Images and Icons: The French Portrait and Renoir" Tuesday night at the college.

"I'm going to be looking at the history of the French portrait and what leads up to Renoir," Rowlands said.

Since the Middle Ages, he said, there had been a distinction between portraits as images, which told a story, and portraits as icons, intended for worship. …