Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Impressionism at the National Gallery

Some of the Impressionist paintings we saw at the National Gallery during our recent 'Impressionist' day in London. 

Vincent Van Gogh, Two Crabs, 1889

Vincent Van Gogh, Farms near Auvers, 1890
A row of dilapidated farm buildings dominates this picture, made a month before the artist's death. Their shapes are mimicked by the fields and hills behind. The hasty brushwork and blank sky suggest that the painting is unfinished.

Vincent Van Gogh, A Wheatfield with Cypresses, 1889

Cypress trees reminded Van Gogh of Egyptian obelisks. These dark trees were in a wheatfield close to the St-Remy mental 'asylum' near Arles where the artist spent a year as a patient. They stand straight and tall in the middle of the wheat, and make a strong and deliberate contrast with the receding horizontal bands of the yellow field, blue hills and sky.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake Keitele, 1905


Theo Van Rysselberghe, Coastal Scene, 1892

This Belgian artist adopted the pointillist painting technique of Georges Seurat in the late a880s. In the following years he painted coastal and boating scenes characterised by a highly animated application of paint.

Paul Signac, Les Andelys, the Washerwomen, 1886

Camille Pissarro, The Cote des Boeufs at L'Hermitage, 1877


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, At the Theatre (La Premiere Sortie), 1878-7

A young girl and her chaperone are seated in a theatre box. They, not the stage, are the subject of the artist's and the audience's attention. The bright gold of the box emphasises their separation from the audience. It also makes a deliberate contrast with their blue dresses.


Edouard Vuillard, The Terrace at Vasouy, 1901

Berthe Morisot, Girl on a Divan, 1885

Morisot was always remarkably free in her distinctive handling of paint, the canvas animated here by vivid, quick touches of colour. The sitter was probably a paid model, but her frank and direct baze suggests a friendship between sitter and artist.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Skiff (La Yole), 1875

Rowing boats, boats under sail and steam trains crossing bridges were favourite motifs of the Impressionists when they painted sunlit summer scenes along the Seine in the suburbs to the west of Paris. Renoir combined all three in this painting.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Portrait of Elena Carafa, 1875

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Head of a Woman, 1874

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Combing the Hair (La Coiffure), 1896

The picture's unfinished appearance and striking orange-red colouration are characteristic of the artist's large-scale late paintings which influenced vanguard artists of the 20th century. Indeed, this picture was owned by Matisse.


Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Russian Dancers, 1899
The artist extended the composition by adding a strip of paper at the bottom.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, 1890-5

George Bellow, Men of the Docks, 1912

Bellows arrived in New York in 1904 where he found rich subject matter in the lives of poor workers in the booming metropolis. Here, day labourers await jobs on the docks of Brooklyn on a grey winter morning. The towers of Lower Manhattan rise in the distance.


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