The french impressionists are at The Tate Britain!

Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blog

I love going to the Tate Britain. It’s always a nice walk from Westminster to there along the Thames. And the building itself offers photogenic views (you can’t escape the stairs’ pictures on Instagram). This is without mentioning the very interesting exhibitions there (David Hockney’s was the most memorable one last year). The Tate Britain is currently showcasing many paintings of some of the most iconic French Impressionists of the late 19th century, when they sought refuge in Britain. Here are the highlights of the exhibition.

1870-1871: war times in France

The troubled political context in France, due to the defeat against Prussia in 1870 and the resulting creation of the Paris Commune in 1871 has led to increasing violence and severe famine in the French capital, which entice many people, including artists, to exile.
London welcomed all refugees at that time, regardless of nationality and social status. Several Impressionists crossed the Channel and settled in London until the context in Paris has improved.
Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blogThe artists presented in this exhibition were all engaged with British culture and landscape and their pieces of art testify of the British lifestyle at that time.

French Impressionists painters in London

Monet, Claude (1840-1926): Houses of Parliament, London, 1900-1901 Chicago (IL) Art Institute of Chicago

London had a flourishing Art market in the late 19th century and artists were inevitably attracted by the British capital. Paul Durand-Ruel, a famous french art dealer, had already moved to London to open a gallery on Knightsbridge.

James Tissot (1836-1902) The Ball on Shipboard c.1874 Oil paint on canvas 1012 x 1476 x 115 mm Tate. Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1937

Among the painters settled in London were Charles-Francois Daubigny, Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, Alfred Sisley and later came James Tissot.

The “French artists in exile 1870-1904” exhibition

The red thread of the exhibition is to show the connection between the newly settled french artists in London and their environment.

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Camille Pissarro, Charing Cross Bridge, London, French, 1830 – 1903, 1890, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

The first room presents the awful conditions in which Parisians were living in the french capital and the reasons for their exile. As painters always seek inspiration of the everyday life, some of them painted Paris during the Commune.

The other rooms present the work of the artists discovering London and its Parks and lifestyle. Camille Pissaro is well  represented in this exhibition and we can admire some of its most colorful paintings. His work was not a surprise for me as I am very familiar with it since my first visit to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. But as a Londoner now, it was funny to recognize Kew Gardens or places in London I regularly visit…

Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blog
Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) Kew Green 1892 Oil paint on canvas 460 x 550 mm Musee d’Orsay (Paris, France)

I personally discovered James Tissot at this exhibition. Although I thought he was half english, his anglicized name has nothing to do with his origin. His real name was Jacques Joseph Tissot, and he was very successful in France before leaving to London in 1871. There, with good social and artistic connections, he quite quickly gained popularity as the painter of the “fashionable life scenes”. I really found some of his paintings as qualitative as photographs. Unfortunately I was not able to take pictures in the museum to present them to you…You will have to go and see for yourself!

The Impressionists series

Claude Monet‘s artistic legacy is huge. Among his most famous paintings are the “series”, some of which are presented at The Tate Britain at the moment (maybe the best argument to convince you to go there?).

Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blog
Monet, Claude (1840-1926): Houses of Parliament, London, 1900-1901 Chicago (IL) Art Institute of Chicago *** Permission for usage must be provided in writing from Scala.

As for me, the highlights of the exhibition are these different views of the Houses of Parliament, related to the different sun lights during the day.

Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blog
Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect 1903 Oil paint on canvas 1048 x 1156 mm Brooklyn Museum of Art

They are all presented in one room, which was the best way to impress the visitors. And the silence there was eloquent. We were all in admiration for such a beautiful work!

Carpeaux at the Tate Britain

I was at the same time surprised and happy to see the sculptor Carpeaux’s work at this exhibition. Carpeaux arrived in London in 1871 after his studio had been destroyed near Paris. In London, he gained support from British collectors and also worked for the Prince Imperial, son of Napoleon III.

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Impressionists In London, Press View, Tate Britain, October 2017

Some of his work is now displayed even if he was not part of the Impressionists movement. But Carpeaux’s sculptures are so realistic that I easily understand the link between him and the Impressionists. Carpeaux recreates perfectly well the energy or emotions in his sculptures. He always offers stunning pieces of art, either in portraits or whole scenes. Don’t miss them if you can!

Tate Britain impressionists Doyouspeaklondon lifestyle blogThe exhibition is on until 7 May 2018. You still have time to discover it! Go and share your experience on this blog…

To go further:
The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870 – 1904) information

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