Corot to Monet – National Gallery, 18 September 2009

The recent Corot to Monet exhibition at the National Gallery wasn’t very exciting, sadly.

Corot to Monet poster

There was a bit about how the Barbizon school was responsible for moving art towards realism. Suddenly, painters were making nature the subject of their paintings.

Jean-Francois Millet extended the idea from landscape to figures. His paintings were reflecting real life: peasant figures and scenes of peasant life, for example.

The previous trend was for painters to incorporate a sense of poetry into their works. They used their imagination and memory to work on pieces, sketching outdoors and working on the paintings back in their studios. What we have as a result are poetic paintings with few realistic details.

‘Beauty in art is truth based on the impression we have received observing nature’ (Corot).

Boudin taught many Impressionists to paint outdoors and they famously took hold of the concept of painting in situ. ‘The Beach at Trouville‘ by Monet even has grains of sand and shells embedded in the paint surface.

And that’s about it. Many paintings and little substance. And a few paintings which failed to justify their presence in the exhibition. Still, it’s always nice to spend some time in an art gallery…

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