Art in the garden

July 16, 2007

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There’s an exhibition of Renoir’s landscape paintings at the National Gallery of Canada just now. Earlier this year this same exhibition was shown at the British National Gallery in London.

I wandered round it on Friday and was surprised to see how few of the sixty paintings I recognised. When Renoir was mentioned I’d generally think of curvaceous young ladies in elegant 1880s fashions rather than scenic views, which were more Monet’s speciality, but this collection rather contradicts that preconception. There were some lovely woodlands, waves and fields captured, such as the ones around Moulin Huet Bay in the Channel Islands (Guernsey) that Renoir visited in 1883 (and that my mother and I visited some 110 years later), but the majority of his landscapes were of course Parisian: views of the Seine at Chatou and Asnières and illustrations of the gardens where he felt comfortable. He hated the snow; it was summer gardens overflowing with flowers that he preferred.

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