Vernissage

DEFINITION

A private showing, preview, or opening of an art exhibition; an event marking the start of an exhibition. This word was used with increasing frequency in the United States in the last decade of the 20th century. Vernissage has its roots in the old practice of setting aside a day before an exhibition's opening for artists to varnish and put finishing touches to their paintings; a tradition that reportedly dates to at least 1809, when it was instituted by England's Royal Academy of Arts. One famous member of the Academy, Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851), was notorious for making major changes to his paintings on this day. English speakers originally referred to this day of finishing touches simply as "varnishing day," but sometime around 1912 we also began using the French term "vernissage" (literally, "varnishing"). Today, however, you are more likely to encounter vino than varnish at a vernissage, which is often a gala event marking the opening of an exhibition.(pr. VAYR-nə-SAHZH)

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