Thursday, August 27, 2009

View on the Oise

The National Gallery's ‘Corot to Monet’ exhibition charts 'the development of open-air landscape painting up to the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874.'  It is an excuse to display the superb collection of oil sketches they hold from the Gere Collection (which I first saw there ten years ago in the exhibition 'A Brush With Nature').  They have also taken the opportunity to display some new research on Corot paintings; the NG website includes a lengthy Corot bibliography.  In addition to the familiar names in landscape painting they highlight less well known artists like Georges Michel and Paul Huet.  The rooms are full of wonderful paintings of course, but I have some sympathy with the view that a bit more could have been done to give the exhibition focus with a few loans from elsewhere.

Claude Monet, The Studio-Boat, 1874

'Corot to Monet' includes two artists who worked from studio boats: Monet himself, who obtained one in 1872, and Daubigny, whose boat Le Botin had given Monet the idea.  Daubigny's View on the Oise (1873), showing the river with no foreshore, was probably painted from his floating studio (the successor to Le Botin - Daubigny had two boats).  A year later, in 1874, Manet famously painted Monet in his studio boat.  It would be nice to imagine other landscape painters in floating studios, but the idea seems very much of its time.  Artists before and since have sought inspiration on boats, but the notion of painting directly on the water was a rather poetic manifestation of nineteenth century naturalism.  Nowadays the boat itself would be very much part of the art work (indeed, we the public would probably be invited aboard).  Nevertheless, even in the 1870s the fact that a work like View on the Oise was painted on the Oise by M. Daubigny would have been something to distinguish it from the other plein air landscapes being produced at the time.

1 comment:

Ben Gage said...

I admire your work. Thanks for reminding me about the NGA show, I'll check it out.