Impressionist Decorations

The National Gallery's blockbuster new exhibition explores the Impressionist movement's influence on 19th century decor. Peter Gray reports.

Edouard Manet, Jeanne (Spring), 1881, oil on canvas © The J Paul Getty Museum; Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

More than 80 works by the world’s greatest artists are to go on show in London next year as part of a major new exhibition on Impressionism.

Impressionist Decorations: The Birth of Modern Décor will see the National Gallery explore a host of decorative items and objects created by leading figures in the movement.   

At the centre of the exhibition will be three stunning paintings by Claude Monet from his legendary water lily series. The much loved paintings will form the backbone of a show that will for the first time explore the ways in which the Impressionists influenced the decorative arts.

The Co curator of the exhibition, Anne Robbins, was clearly thrilled by the prospect of the new show. “We are very excited about it” she said in a press release. “It must be the last impressionist subject which has not yet been explored. We believe it will make a difference, that it will go against the clichés about impressionism.”

The clichés to which Robbins refers suggest that the Impressionists painted bright and colourful plein air (outdoor) paintings. The National Gallery show is keen to challenge this perspective, however, and the institution has a wealth of material with which to do it.

Claude Monet Water Lilies

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1908, oil on canvas © Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

The new show will feature a range of media including paintings, decorative panels, tiles and tapestries.

The roll call of artists in the National Gallery exhibition is certainly an impressive one. Apart from Monet, Pissarro, Morisot, Degas, Cassatt, Cezanne, Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir all feature.

Alongside Monet, Renoir also features heavily in the new exhibition. The artist began life as a factory porcelain painter and the artist never lost sight of his art’s decorative potential and roll. Indeed, he once commented that the purpose of art was to “brighten up the walls”.

The exhibition Impressionist Decorations: The Birth of Modern Décor has been organised by the National Gallery and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, where the show will open in 2020.

The show will move to the National Gallery on the 11th of September 2021 and remain there until the 9th of January 2022.

More information about the exhibition can be found here.

For information on other great exhibitions in London, please click here.


-London's Best Events-
What: new exhibition
When: 11 Sept 21 - 9 Jan 22
Where: National Gallery
Website: National Gallery