A picture should “seize you, enthral you, carry you away.” That was said by Auguste Renoir, one of the artists whose work is currently on display as a part of the National Galleries of Scotland’s Impressionist Gardens exhibit.
But this not just an exhibition for art historians; it is incredibly comprehensive, explaining the sources and development of impressionism so that anyone can understand and appreciate this art form. For instance, flowers were incredibly intruiging at the time. Some had been shipped from the US and Mexico, creating a new excitement in Europe. Others symbolized a nation’s re-birth. And as the cities became more crowed, gardens and suburbia became desirable and artists cultivated their own gardens.
The exhibit includes paintings of these personal gardens as well as kitchen gardens, which forced the artist to create something beautiful out of something mundane, and historical gardens, which remained popular with artists despite the construction of newer gardens. In fact Monet’s two versions of the Park Moreau on display support the claim that older parks held more meaning to artists.
But the exhibition is not just comprehensive in the information given, but in the very works themselves. Along with work by Monet, Cezanne, Klimt and Van Gogh, work by lesser known Scottish and American impressionists were featured. And the final gallery, which is explored the spread of impressionism, featured paintings from Spain to Holland.
In addition to the diversity amongst the artists themselves, there was a wide range of impressionism that was covered. Meaning that the paintings spanned from the earliest impressionist works through to the period’s very end – one painting was from the 1930’s. This allowed the viewer to really see how the period developed over time, including how artists influenced each other and their society.
The National Galleries have done a fantastic job putting this together. Appropriate for those who art historians and those who just want to learn a little about art, this is one exhibit not to be missed.