Study Visit 15.08.16 – National Scottish Gallery – Inspiring Impressionism


The exhibition promised to:  ‘This major exhibition is an ambitious display of masterpieces from the Impressionist era. Featuring over 100 pictures, from collections around the world, Inspiring Impressionism focuses on three key artists: Charles François Daubigny, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. Through a series of fascinating and surprising juxtapositions, this landmark show highlights the interactions and mutual influence between these three artists.’

Although not strictly anything to do with textiles, I find myself visiting Fine Art exhibitions, because there are more of them and are easy to access, but mainly because of starting off with a Fine Art background myself, I am drawn to looking at things in a drawn or painted way, before bringing in the medium of fabric.  This type of exhibition can also inspire, due to the carful use of light and texture throughout.  I will not give long descriptions, but rather highlight a few things which I feel relate to my practice….

Daubigny was instrumental in the advent of Impressionism, with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and Van Gogh among those who drew influence from his work. Yet while the artists he inspired went onto achieve international recognition, Daubigny’s achievements have faded from glory.

In fact, he has never before been the subject of a major international exhibition. Daubigny wished to capture ‘the active life of the countryside’ and would often work en plein air from his river boat, creating bold textural paintings using a palette knife and ‘dabbed on’ colour. These methods would later become characteristic of Impressionist painting.

This exhibition brings together examples of his output with that of the movement’s most prominent artists, revealing the incredible parallels between the two. For example, Daubigny’s Sunset on the Oise is shown alongside Monet’s The Seine at Bougival, Evening, both of which are romantically depicted in streaked, hazy colour.

The first one I would like to highlight, is the ability for three artists the main three which this exhibition focuses on, to paint the same scene, differently.

I will illustrate this:

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Above, you see three interpretations of the same scene.

Charles François Daubigny, Fields in the month of June, 1874; Van Gogh and Monet’s interpretations.

Thus you can see how different the three are.  Lets take for example Daubigny’s painting.  The attention to detail is conveyed here.  Note the people in the painting, which are not seen in the other two.  The animals and even weather detail and time of day are all seen.

In contrast, look at Monet’s, which lies somewhere in-between detail and abstract.  He focuses more on the weather, look at the trees, billowing in the wind.  Then look at the poppies and grass, all splayed out as if wind battered.  He gives a lovely light to his painting, a slight pink hue to the sky.

Finally lets look at Gogh’s.  It is bright and colorful, he looks more to the “feeling” of the place.  Maybe the emotion it gives him.  He conveys this in large brushstrokes and bright colour.  Detail is not as important here. 

Why am I so interested in all of this?  Because it conveys a lesson that all artists look at things differently.  This goes for not just fine art but any discipline.  We will all interpret the same thing differently.  It shows that details are not always needed, take Gogh’s version, which looks like a zoomed in version of the other two.  He looks at the memory of the place, which I really like.  It is like a diary entry, a capturing of a moment in time, whereas the other two depict the scene.  From this example, I can learn to always convey my own personalization, maybe taking the “detail” out, not everything has to be documented in one piece of work.

What can I take from this exhibition?

  • – Always have a personal style.
  • – Scenes to not have to be depicted as a whole, but rather the area we want to highlight or like ourselves.
  • – Details can be left out and simplified.
  • – Emotion can be conveyed in whatever work me create, in an obvious or subtle way, depending on ur style. It may make us produce work which looks less like our own style, or may come through in our colour choices and subject matter.
  • – Light is important along with colour and the relation between both. Monet’s colour choices are hopeful and joyful. They give off that feel.

 For more on this exhibition, please see my Log Book files or my Printed files for this course, all clearly labelled.




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