I prefer to visit exhibitions when they've got over the initial rush - so that I can actually see the paintings. Except I forgot it was August - which is major tourist month in London - and there were lots of people visiting yesterday afternoon! I hate to think what it's like at the weekend!
The exhibition website has:
- an article by Alex Butterworth (from the RA magazine - minus the images) which "describes how the leisured world of the Normandy coast in the 1860s inspired the Impressionists, as the seaside became fashionable across Europe"
- a podcast about the exhibition
- a pdf guide to the exhibition Impressionists by the Sea: An Introduction to the Exhibition (712 KB), by Greg Harris.
- Artists and travel
- The Sea
- The development of tourism
- Painting the tourists which includes some superb paintings by Eugene Boudin. Discovering Boudin for the first time was the major plus point of this exhibition for me.
The son of a sea captain from Honfleur, the whole of his artistic life was essentially devoted to the ports, the beaches and the landscapes of the Normandy coast. He was much influenced by Isabey, drawing from him a sense of atmosphere and of wind-blown cloud, which he developed through greater effects of subtlety and nuance......We know Boudin best from his generally small, horizontal pictures of fashionably dressed tourists promenading on the beach. With the figures arranged in a frieze-like fashion, the eye moves across, picking out the different groups, the flash of colour of a brilliant dress, sometimes an isolated individual. There is, however, no anecdotal content. The socialising and opportunity for display are contained within the groupings, and the bathing and sea are generally relegated to the background.
You can see more about the pictures in the exhibition here in this slideshow provided by The Guardian Unlimited. For more informed comment than I can provide see the articles about the exhibition by
- The Telegraph "Monet meets the smart set" (Richard Dorment)
- The Observer "How Monet and co reaped the fruits de mer" (Tim Adamas 8th July 2007)
- The Guardian "Sea Power" (William Feaver 7th July 2007)
I was particularly struck by:
- two stunning Whistler seascapes - which would not look out of place in any contemporary art gallery - but are not listed on the website and I can't find on-line. I'd have been impressed by these if they'd been downstairs in the Summer Exhibition.
- the composition of a non marine painting by Monet Road at La Cavée, Pourville. I'm not quote sure why but it made me think of childhood and long walks on country paths and the smell of heat on grass .
Over the road in Hatchards (of which more in another post) I found the catalogue for the Monet In Normandy exhibition which took place in the USA in 2006/7 organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Looks like it was a sell-out and derservedly so having now seen the catelogue. This was the Cleveland Museum's website for the exhibition and these are the exhibition highlights. It looks like a number of paintings were common to both the Normandy exhibition and the Impressionists exhibition. There's a very distinct difference in quality of colour reproduction between the Monet in Normandy catalogue when compared to the RA catalogue - the former is definitely superior and will be appreciated by those for whom such things matter.
The Impressionists by the Sea exhibition is a tripartite effort by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Finally - this is my quick 15 minute sketch of The Friends Room at the Roal Academy - also packed with people having cups of tea and a bite to eat. The room currently has new paintings by Mary Fedden hung around the walls. (All works have been sold)
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell