Sublime Gardens

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Art, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 20th April 2016

Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873 Oil on canvas, 46.7 x 59.7 cm Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. Bequest of Anne Parrish Titzell, 1957.614 Photo (c) Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873
Oil on canvas, 46.7 x 59.7 cm
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. Bequest of Anne Parrish Titzell, 1957.614
Photo (c) Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

The star of this show which celebrates artists and gardens is, of course, Claude Monet.  Rightly so because he was a serious horticulturalist and one would certainly not disagree with him when he wrote ‘I perhaps owe it to flowers that I became a painter’.

It is a large show that welcomes more than one visit and the fact that like some gardens the paintings are arranged in themed rooms such as Impressionist Gardens or Gardens of Reverie gives the visitor ample scope to re-visit as one would a favourite part of a garden.

Joaquin Sorolla, Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911 Oil on canvas, 150 x 225.5 cm On loan from the Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY Photo (c) Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York

Joaquin Sorolla, Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911
Oil on canvas, 150 x 225.5 cm
On loan from the Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY
Photo (c) Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York

The paintings whether Impressionist, Postimpressionist or Avant Garde tell a story too of the growing interest in gardens by the middle classes through a variety of materials such as journals, receipts and letters.

Although not a gardener myself I enjoyed this show and found myself deeply moved in the last room where the three great Monet water lily paintings – the Agapanthus Triptych of 1916 – 1919, normally in the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum, hang reunited once more.

Claude Monet, Nympheas (Waterlilies), 1914-15 Oil on canvas, 160.7 x 180.3 cm Portland Art Museum, Oregon. Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer Fund, 59.16 Photo (c) Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Claude Monet, Nympheas (Waterlilies), 1914-15
Oil on canvas, 160.7 x 180.3 cm
Portland Art Museum, Oregon. Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer Fund, 59.16
Photo (c) Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

www.royalacademy.org.uk

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