Saturday, 9 June 2012

Into the Light

Into the Light: French and British Painting from Impressionism to the early 1920's, at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

We have parked the car and are on the woodland path that leads to the house.

We can see the house now, through the trees and across the lake

over the 'Capabilit'y Brown bridge

we are now approaching the house, eager to get inside as it is a horrible, wet day.

It is a relief to be inside, particularly as the exhibition is very good indeed.

James McNeill Whistler, The Bathing Posts, Brittany, 1893

Claude Monet, The Museum at Le Havre, 1873

Monet lived in Argentuil during this time but made frequent trips to Le Havre, his hometown.

Henry Herbert La Thangue, The Builder's Yard, Brittany, 1881

Stanhope Alexander Forbes, Study of a Fisherwoman, 1884.

One of several early studies towards Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach

S.A. Forbes, Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach

Stanhope Forbes at his easel

S.A. Forbes, Beach Scene, St Ives, 1886

Philip Wilson Steer, The Beach at Walberswick Beach, 1889

The two paintings by Steer were stunning and definite favourites. He was one of the only few British Impressionists. His paintings played with the handling of the light and he experimented with breaking up the colours as Monet did. Unfortunately, despite the fact that he had many supporters, he got very despondent  by the many critics who howled incessantly about his work and in the late 1890s, he started turning more and more towards conventional English style such as Turner and Constable. A real loss: the flickering light effects that he achieved make his paintings glow and these two definitely stood out in this wonderful exhibition.

Walberswick Beach, Children Paddling, 1891

Pierre-Auguste, Renoir, Moulin Huet Bay, Guernsey, 1883

Paul Gauguin, Landscape at Pont-Aven, 1888

There are some doubts about this painting's authenticity due to clumsiness in the composition and in the handling of the paint.

John Duncan Ferguson, Twilight, Royan, 1910

This was painted  in 1910 while Ferguson and fellow colourist Peploe stayed in Royan. In this painting he has emphasized geometric shapes, such as the sails and the shapes of the boats. Another favourite this one.

Samuel John Peploe, Boats at Royan, 1910

Like Ferguson, Peploe was influenced by French avant-garde painters while staying in Royan, shown in this case by the brushwork.

Spencer Gore, Beanfield, Letchworth, 1912

Influenced by French painting, Gore learnt a lot about Degas' paintings through Sickert's teachings. After seeing Roger Fry's Post-Impressionist exhibitions in 1910 and 1912 he was one of the first of the Camden Town group to switch from an Impressionist-based technique to one that comes closer in appearance to stained glass as exemplified in the Beanfield with its insistent pattern-making.

Lucien Pissarro, Apple Blossom, Riversbridge Farm, Blackpool, South Devon, 1921

A founder member of the Camden Town Group, Pissarro was particularly inspired by this location. He was captivated by the secluded wooded combe and rural  buildings scattered alongside the small stream. He described his landscapes as '... little corners which compose harmoniously'.

This was a delightful exhibition and I have chosen only a few of the paintings exhibited. We were not allowed to photograph so the photographs have been downloaded.


  1. This certainly looks like it was a good exhibition. I've heard of Crmpton Verney and they've shown other exhibitions I'd have liked to see, but it's a little far away (wrong side of Birmingham) for a day trip. Still, you can't get to everything you'd like to see .

  2. It was a very good exhibition indeed, and by far the most popular since Compton Verney opened a few years ago - I went to see it twice and both times it was packed. As far as I understand it is a touring exhibition so it might come your way at some point. As for Compton Verney, it is a great place: beautiful house, great grounds, good restaurant and some of the courses they run are also very interesting.