Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Cup of Chocolate, Renoir, 1877-8
Step into the art dealer's apartment and see what he chooses to hang in his own grand salon. (Don't you just love that vase of white lilac and raspberry ripple tulips?)
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
And you wish you could have seen Monet's solo exhibition of 1883 ...

The Galettes, Claude Monet, 1882
Because how many artists have painted such delicious apple pies?

6 comments:

Lucille said...

I can't wait. I have heard such good things about this exhibition.

mary said...

I was so surprised that it wasn't crowded, Lucille. Hope you're as lucky,

Toffeeapple said...

Oh if only...

mary said...

I wish you could, Toffeeapple.

Lucille said...

Heaving! But still worth the trip. I have designs on some panelled doors now! I have form. I once painted a Van Gogh's Cypresses on a child's bedroom wall.

mary said...

I had a feeling I'd struck very lucky that day, Lucille. It was bound to get busy. I coveted that door especially as I have just bought some very boring new doors.