“The Modern Garden” at the Royal Academy

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Monet painting in his garden at Argenteuil, AUguste renoir, 1873, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Ct

Monet painting in his garden at Argenteuil, Auguste Renoir, 1873, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Ct

« Painting the Modern garden, Monet to Matisse », is the right exhibition on the right theme in the right country. Where else, but in Great Britain, where everyone has a garden and cherishes it, could one have organised a show on painters who love gardening. There was a real faith animating the public in the crowded Royal Academy galleries, and everyone was discussing the quality of the dahlias and the layout of the Impressionists’s gardens. You could really see how important flowers were for these great artists.

Louis Comfort Tiffany by Joaquin Sorolla, 1911, Courtesy of the Hispanic Society of America, New York

Louis Comfort Tiffany by Joaquin Sorolla, 1911, Courtesy of the Hispanic Society of America, New York

For this is a very lively show which appeals to art lovers as well as to gardners. I had no idea that Monet had set such a trend among his peers, with his gardens of Argenteuil and Giverny. And he definitely is the center of attention here with three large rooms dedicated to his waterlily ponds, bridges, irises and wild gardens. Paintings have flocked from all over the world to celebrate these joyful painters.

Murnau the Garden II, Wassily Kandinsky, 1910, Merzbacher Kunstiftung

Murnau the Garden II, Wassily Kandinsky, 1910, Merzbacher Kunstiftung

Vuillard, Bonnard, Renoir, Caillebotte and Pissarro but also Max Liebermann in Berlin, Munch, Klimt, Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, Karl Nordström and Joaquim Sorolla in Madrid. Even Paul Klee and his abstract gardens and Maurice Denis and his virginal ladies, excite our gardening fever.

Resting in the garden, by Pierre Bonnard, 1914, the National Museum of Art and Design, Oslo

Resting in the garden, by Pierre Bonnard, 1914, the National Museum of Art and Design, Oslo

What is most appealing is how real Misia Natanson looks when she is napping at Villeneuve sur Yonne and how Pierre Bonnard’s « Resting in the garden » looks natural.
Never since the fabulous exhibition in Rouen « Eblouissants reflets » in 2013, had I seen impressionist paintings so well exhibited. The thematic of the garden gives it a true strength and the beautiful rooms of the royal Academy give the exceptional Vuillard panels the chic setting they deserve. (until April 20 th  in London)

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