Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the National Gallery collection
Tuesday, the 10th of October 15:30-18:00
Friday, the 13th of October 18:30-20:30
Saturday, the 14th of October 13:00-15:30
"Never before have paintings appeared to me to possess such an overwhelming dignity. One can almost hear the inner voices of the earth and sense the trees burgeoning..."
Emile Zola, on Camille Pissarro
The Impressionists established, above all, that reality, seen outside the distorting convention of the studio, breaks down into impressions into optical phenomena, into a vibrant display of splashes of colour and light. Tangible, material reality becomes a volatile metamorphosis of coloured pictures. The aim is to portray the perpetual transience, the endless rebirth, through light effects, of the infinite universe of pictures which make up the world of vision.
The first step taken by the Impressionists was to put sensation' in the place of knowledge; changing appearance in place of the material concreteness of objects; fugitive, relative vision in place of lasting reality
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Location: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Meeting point - main entrance information desk.
Art History Context:
The term 'Impressionist' was first used as an insult in response to an exhibition of new paintings in Paris in 1874. A diverse group of painters, rejected by the art establishment, defiantly set up their own exhibition. They included Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas.
What characterises Impressionism for most people nowadays, is both the subject matter and the technique. Landscapes, and scenes from modern urban and suburban life painted in bright, pure colours are typical. Impressionists often began (and sometimes completed) their paintings outdoors rather than in a studio. Their rapidly applied brushstrokes are often visible.
Today, the Impressionist paintings are some of the best-known and best-loved in the collection. It takes a leap of the imagination for us to realise how radical the movement was considered in its day.
Modern life and the way that ordinary people spent their free time were popular subjects with many Impressionist painters. Monet, Renoir and Degas show us the theatres, cafés, and popular countryside resorts of late 19th-century Paris.
Traditionally in France the middle classes had not been considered fit subjects for serious painting, while the working classes and the peasantry were usually portrayed as comic yokels, or timeless figures of rural life.
Broadly speaking the term Post-Impressionism embraces the artists working in France in the 1880s, immediately after the Impressionists. It was coined by Roger Fry for his exhibition of 1910 in which he showed Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin and Seurat. The classification covers artists who were aware of Impressionism but who sought to move beyond it - the term is sometimes applied to late work of the original Impressionists. In the main, the post-Impressionist artists were less concerned with recording optically accurate appearances - as the Impressionists had been - than with the symbolic or expressive possibilities of representation.
Learn more from the source, The National Gallery
Renoir, At the Theatre (La Première Sortie), 1876-7 (c) National Gallery London,
Vincent van Gogh, A Wheatfield, with Cypresses 1889, (c) National Gallery London.