|The Cup of Chocolate, Renoir, 1877-8|
Feel a twinge of envy when you see the drawing room door and think that he actually lived with this as furniture and fittings. I couldn't find an image, so imagine it ... A big white door panelled with six flower paintings by Monet: Japanese lilies, chrysanthemums, gladioli, a basket of apples (okay, so they're not all flowers), pink and white azaleas. (To give you an idea, these anemones decorated one of the other doors in the same room.)
And imagine ... that door is now in somebody's private collection. Is it now Art up on a wall? Or do people (well-mannered people, of course, who never slam or flounce out of rooms) actually turn the handle and walk through? Why do gallery labels never tell you what you really want to know?
I couldn't resist heading to the National Gallery this afternoon for the first day of Inventing Impressionism, their exhibition about the renowned Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, the man who bought Monets, Manets and Renoirs in bulk. I expected it to be thronged with a heaving mass of people. But to my delight, there weren't all that many there and there was more than enough room to stand back and admire.
I was wondering how it would compare to the exhibition I saw in Paris a few years ago about another ground-breaking dealer Ambroise Vollard. This set the bar very high; it was one of the best exhibitions that I expect ever to see in my lifetime and I spent a record five hours walking around. To my disappointment, the National Gallery exhibition has nothing like the wealth of art historical detail that made the Paris show so fascinating. (To be fair, they haven't got the space.)
But it is still a feast of one gorgeous painting after another. From the moment you walk in and meet Durand-Ruel's family, by his favourite artist Renoir ...
|The Daughters of Paul Durand-Ruel, 1882|
And rediscover old favourites, dahlias and cabbages ...
|The Artist's Garden in Argenteuil, Claude Monet, 1873|
Wondering how many times you've seen this one without ever noticing the cigarette butt and spent matches under their feet.
|Dance at Bougival, Renoir, 1883|
|The Galettes, Claude Monet, 1882|
Because how many artists have painted such delicious apple pies?