Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Art Tuesday: Inventing Impressionism // Overwhelmed

We Brits have a hereditary cultural aversion to tourists, tourism and, worst of all, the dreaded Looking Like a Tourist. We especially don't want to look like tourists in our own country. Walking around with our noses buried in A-Z roadmaps? Getting lost on the tube? Buying an I <3 London T-shirt? These are all no-go areas. I may have only been to London three times in my life, but I still try to convey a savvy air of the Brit-about-town. "Me? Yeah, I know how the tube works! I do this all the time!"

However. I know, and you know also, that I am as big a tourist as the next one. It was just this weekend that I had the chance to go to London with le mother. It was a brilliant trip. As well as having dinner with my brother (who lives there), we also went to the National Gallery and saw a stunning exhibition called Inventing Impressionism. Me throughout:

Then on Friday night we saw Les Mis at the Queens Theatre. It was INCREDIBLE. They had this rotating stage. And the costumes. And Valjean WAS JUST--

Me throughout:

On Saturday morning we went to Dulwich Picture Gallery to see an exhibition of the work of a British artist called Ravilious. Me throughout:

Now then.

Because I know that you love it when I bore you senseless stimulate you with pictures .... 

Inventing Impressionism

The exhibition centred around the life and work of a chap called Paul Durand-Ruel. He was a nineteenth-century art dealer who, at a time when the most famous Impressionists - Monet, Pissarro and Sisley, to name a few - were being rejected by the Royal Academy and lampooned by critics, bought their work and supported them. He revolutionised the art of curating an exhibition and made it possible for these Impressionists to keep working at a time when the world was stacked against them.

Me: People didn't like Monet??

But apparently so. The genius of the Impressionists went unrecognised by most for decades. It was only the tireless work of Durand-Ruel that allowed the Impressionist movement to flourish.

The Valley Of Saint-Vincent (1830) - Theodore Rousseau 
This is very small in real life, but incredible.
La Pointe de la Hève, Sainte-Adresse (1864) - Claude Monet
The Thames below Westminster (c. 1871) - Claude Monet

Road at La Cavee, Pourville (1882) - Claude Monet 

I am a cardinal Monet fan. That last one is probably my favourite, because the colours.

The Avenue, Sydenham (1871) - Camille Pissarro

The Lock at Pontoise (1872) - Camille Pissarro

Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather (1896) - Camille Pissarro

Fox Hill, Upper Norwood (1870) - Camille Pissarro

Were I forced to choose (but don't force me), Pissarro is my favourite Impressionist. He's up there in my favourite artists ever. These four: so beautiful. I love all the colours, but I especially love the scale of 
Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather. It conveys the idea of the city, the beating heart of people and buildings and life.

Ferry to the Ile-de-la-Loge, Flood, 1872. Alfred Sisley

The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (1872) - Alfred Sisley
Sisley is my other favourite. I especially love that second one, which I bought a card of and am going to put in my room. The colours. The water.

OK. You'll be extremely glad really sorry to hear that, as I am now going to bed, and this post is long enough already (though not too long - considering there were 85 works in the exhibition, I think I've done pretty well), that is all of Art Tuesday for today. I would dearly love to show you some Ravilious, though, as well as other things I saw in the National Gallery ... but I'm aware that this is (technically) a book blog, which I don't want to overrun with my pictorial indulgences. But then again ... a painting is like a book, just wearing different clothes.

Tell me: which of these is your favourite? Do you like arty posts like this (should I fire away with Ravilious at a future point?)? Have you seen any good exhibitions lately? And who is your favourite artist?


  1. *feels bad about looking like a tourist when I was a tourist in Scotland* sorry. X) Those are beautiful pictures! I never really got into REAL art (I mean, I like drawing and painting and whatnot, but I can only handle museums for so long), but those facts about Durand-Ruel were very interesting! It sounds like you had a FABULOUS time in London, and I'm a little jealous. X)

    1. Oh, and while I'm here, I tagged you! http://rachelssecretscribblings.blogspot.ca/2015/05/favorite-screen-characters-tag.html Don't feel pressured into it if you don't want it. XD

    2. Haha, you should have seen my mum and I getting lost and wandering around in Brixton! XD
      I got into REAL art a couple of years ago, after I began to seriously study it at school. Museums can be overwhelming, though -- you can only see so much before it stops impacting you and your feet hurt and you just want to go home! I did have a fabulous time though :D

      Thanks! Ashley also tagged me for this. I am yet to decide on its future on le blog ... but thank you! :)

  2. Okay, just be prepared for a long comment.

    I don't know a lot about art because. . . I'm an uncultured American? *sobs into hands* But this is awesome! I really like Monet's La Pointe de la Heve. It's just so real. The pebbled shore, the cliffs, the sky in the back drop- it's beautiful. I really, really love the next one of his, The Thames Below Westminster. I like the colors, though there isn't much color. But I can feel the fog and the cold, clamminess of the morning. I like Pissarro's The Lock of Pontoise for similar reasons. I'm a gray-weather kind of person, I guess.

    Yes! Do a post of Ravilious! I feel like I've learned something here. I don't know much about art, but I do like it. And you're right, it's like a book just dressed differently.

    Wait, a revolving stage?! That is so cool! I go to local plays sometimes, but I've never been to a professional play. (I can't even get my parents to take me to see the River Dancers on my birthday. . .). But a revolving stage? That is just- wow!

    The Hiddleston gif. :)

    It must be great to be able to disguise your "touristness." (Okay, so that isn't a word. . .). I could never do that. I probably look like a tourist in my own town. I'm always gawking at everything like it's new to me or something. Or at least I feel like I am. Once my family and some of our friends went to a rose garden. Their mom said I looked like Alice in Wonderland because I kept "looking at everything." :P

    1. That first Monet was stunning in real life. The colour's not great in that picture but in the gallery it was stunning, and you're right, *so* real. The Lock of Pointoise is incredible. I love the turbulence of the sky.

      OK! That was all the encouragement I needed :'D
      I'm really glad you feel like that!

      It was soooo amazing. So clever!! Keep campaigning. They'll take you somewhere.

      I know :')

      I really can't, actually! We took the wrong tube a couple of times. And I wrote a poem to Trafalgar Square. So not a born Londoner .... but you know what?? It's good to be in a state of wonder. We miss the beauty around us because we're used to it. You keep on looking at everything! You are a writer.

      PS thank you for this beautifully long comment! Your comments are always the best :'D

  3. I love these kinds of posts. It sounds like you had a great trip! I visited London once four years ago - I wasn't all that concerned about looking like a tourist because I was just so excited to be there :D Road at La Cavee, The Avenue, and The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne are my favorites here - the color pallets are gorgeous.

    I'm especially interested in impressionist art (basically in high school French we had a huge unit on the subject and I loved it) so seeing someone else who is also just as interested is great. When our group visited the National Gallery, it was surreal to be in the same room as the actual paintings we'd seen in books or onscreen. If I remember right, the big exhibit was on Jan Gossaert and it was fascinating.

    1. Good! In that case ... Ravilious coming right up!
      It's such an amazing place. I love those three, two. You've gone for all the colourful ones!

      Impressionism is my favourite art movement. The colours; the landscapes; the freedom. It's just incredible. And I especially loved learning about Durand-Ruel, who made it possible!
      Yes. Thinking: "that's not a print. That is actually the painting, that actual Pissarro sat and painted" is an incredible feeling.
      The name "Gossaert" does not ring any bells but quick Pinterest search and I do recognise his stuff. It blows my mind that he was alive in the 16th century but able to do these amazing paintings, with only natural and candlelight and still fairly primitive paints.

  4. I don't care if this is technically a book blog, I enjoyed this post! It's kind of sad that many artists were never recognized in their lifetime, but I'm glad the art world has smartened up over time and appreciated works like these.

    1. Good! And yes, it really is. Van Gogh is probably the biggest example of that. I think these Impressionists at least enjoyed some popularity nearer the end of their careers ... but Van Gogh barely sold anything before he killed himself. He was so incredibly gifted. It breaks my heart.


Thanks for commenting! :)