National Gallery Celebrates The Man Who Saved Impressionism

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 45 months ago
National Gallery Celebrates The Man Who Saved Impressionism ★★★★★ 5
1860 Image licenced to Anna Siebert National Gallery Company by Anna SiebertImage Detail : Work number : RMN165823Image number : 99-012633Inventory Number : RF1988Collection : PeinturesTitle : Chevaux arabes se battant dans une écurieAuthor : Delacroix Eugène (1798-1863) painterAuthor rights : Photo Credit : (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Gérard BlotPeriod : 19th century, contemporary period from 1789 till 1914Date : 1860Technic/Material : oil on canvasHeight : 0.646 m.Length : 0.810 m.Location : Paris, musée du LouvreUsage : Anna Siebert - Paul Durand Ruel - 1/2/2015 - Billing Type : XInternet PurchaseSupport : Exhibition (exhibition catalog, merchandising products etc...)support : Exhibition catalogue Territory : English worldwideprint run : <10.000 copies - JPEG - 4000X6000 pixels © RMN (Musée du Louvre) / Réunion des Musées Nationaux Oil on canvas65.5 x 81 cm
Eugene Delacroix imparts his usual energy into these two fighting horses. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)
One of our finest treasures is this river scene from Westminster by Claude Monet. © The National Gallery, London
One of our finest treasures is this river scene from Westminster by Claude Monet. © The National Gallery, London
GemÑlde / ôl auf Leinwand (um 1881) von    Paul CÇzanne [19.1.1839 - 22.10.1906]    Bildma· 73,5 x 91,5 cm   Inventar-Nr.: A I 606   Person: Paul CÇzanne [19.1.1839 - 22.10.1906], Franzîsischer Maler   Systematik:    Personen / KÅnstler / CÇzanne / Werke / Landschaften
One of Cezanne's signature 'blocky' landscapes. © Photo Scala, Florence & Klaus Goeken.
Renoir's commissions, such as this portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, ensured a steady income. © Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
Renoir's commissions, such as this portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, ensured a steady income. © Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
Oil on canvas49.5 x 65.4 cm
This bridge is one of Alfred Sisley's best works in this show. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Image licenced to Anna Siebert National Gallery Company by Anna SiebertImage Detail : Work number : RMN193269Image number : 07-529178Inventory Number : RF1993Collection : PeinturesTitle : Clair de lune sur le port de BoulogneAuthor : Manet Edouard (1832-1883) painterPhoto Credit : (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé LewandowskiPeriod : 19th century, contemporary period from 1789 till 1914Date : 1869Technic/Material : oil on canvasHeight : 0.820 m.Length : 1.010 m.Location : Paris, musée d'OrsayUsage : Anna Siebert - Paul Durand Ruel - 1/2/2015 - Billing Type : XInternet PurchaseSupport : Exhibition (exhibition catalog, merchandising products etc...)support : Exhibition catalogue Territory : English worldwideprint run : <10.000 copies - JPEG - 4000X6000 pixels © RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Réunion des Musées Nationaux Oil on canvas81.5 x 101 cm
This rare nocturne by Edouard Manet is full of angular lines and a sense of foreboding. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay)

Londonist Rating: ★★★★★

The story of Impressionism is well known: a set of artists who revolutionised painting but were ahead of their time and not appreciated by the vast majority of critics. But the story that isn't often told is of Paul Durand-Ruel — an art dealer who saw the potential of the Impressionists and ploughed his money into buying their works and keeping them afloat. It could be argued that if it wasn't for Durand-Ruel, then Impressionism may simply be a footnote in art history.

Rather than telling his story through a dry selection of personal belongings, his narrative is illustrated with the help of 85 masterpieces so visitors can learn about Durand-Ruel, or simply soak in the wonderful works on display. Colour abounds in paintings by Renoir; there are foreboding moonlit Manets, and other works by well known artists such as Degas and Pissarro. It's not just Impressionism on display, there are also Romantic works and a sculpture by August Rodin in the exhibition.

The star of this show is Claude Monet. While it's easy to think of him only as a painter of water lilies this exhibition shows us just how versatile he was. In one painting he is able to capture sunlight kissing a railroad bridge, while elsewhere he catches the grittier side of life as men carry coal off their boats. The simplicity of a door becomes a showcase of his skill, and all the while breathtaking landscapes are delivered at every turn.

This exhibition may be centred on Paul Durand-Ruel but the National Gallery has made the right choice in letting the works speak for themselves — and it delivers fantastic paintings en masse. It's a reminder of why Impressionism is such a well loved genre of painting and will undoubtedly be a deservedly popular show.

Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market is on at The National Gallery until 31 May. Tickets are £16 for adults, concessions available. Also still on at The National Gallery are the Romantic moonlit landscapes by Peder Balke.

For more great art to see in London, visit our top 10 exhibitions for March.

Last Updated 04 March 2015