Impressionists and the peopleImpressionists and the people

As art movements go, Impressionism possesses
considerable mass-appeal – Ciara Finlay visits some recent Impressionist exhibitions in Dublin

As art movements go, Impressionism possesses
considerable mass-appeal – Ciara Finlay visits some recent Impressionist exhibitions in Dublin

When we consider art, it is usually perceived to be something that has been left to the confines of “high culture” and regarded as inaccessible to the masses. However, as far as Impressionism is concerned, we find that this movement possesses an undeniably broad appeal.

This can be seen in countless facets of everyday life, with numerous Impressionist works leaping out from their gilded frames and onto posters, coffee mugs, and even aprons.  

The great works of this movement are generally thought to reside in the romantic location of Paris, particularly in the the Musée d’Orsay where one can admire
Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass, Renoir’s Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre and Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône.
A mere bridge-crossing away is the
Musée de l’Orangerie where one can find Monet’s Nymphéas. The queues to get in to these museums are often as long as those for the city’s other great attraction,
Disneyland Paris. This fact alone indicates the huge public demand for such works. 

Over the course of the summer, Trinity students had no need to go quite as far as Paris to enjoy the works of the impressionists. Three minutes from the Pav stands the National Gallery of Ireland and for two weeks from late July to early August, the Millennium Wing featured an exhibition
titled Impressionist Interiors
Bringing together works from private lenders and museums alike, the exhibition took an insightful look at paintings from a movement typically remembered for its depiction of sunsets and gardens.

The usual suspects had their works hanging for all to delight in, including Manet’s The Ball at the Opéra, Morisot’s The Artist’s Sister at a Window, and Degas’s The Convalescent.

These paintings, though very beautiful indeed, were not the only works which
received significant admiration. Some people say that young children make the greatest
art critics as they are unpretentious, wholly dedicated to their own art and brutally honest. If this is true, then we cannot overlook Women of Paris: The Circus Lover by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.

Tissot’s incomparable abiity to depict
high society can clearly be seen in this painting, full of colour and life. This may account for the reactions of the children who marvelled before it with wide smiling eyes.

Had any members of the Dublin
University Gender Equality Society visited the exhibit, they would have responded to it with a similar sense of delight and doubtlessly commended its curator Janet McLean. Works by Berthe Morisot as well as Mary Cassatt were hung along with those of Camille Pissarro and Paul Gauguin, demonstrating how their work, once atrociously undervalued, is now held in equal regard to that of their male contemporaries. 

The combination of all of these elements meant that Impressionist Interiors could be enjoyed by both connoisseur and amateur alike. 

Don’t fret if you missed the exhibition though, Impressionist art can still be found in the city, in The Hugh Lane Gallery, for example. In honour of its centenary year, the gallery decided to celebrate in style. On 26 June, President Mary McAleese opened the Hugh Lane 100 Years exhibition, focused on the 39 Hugh Lane Bequest Paintings.

This exhibition marks the first time since the 1913 controversy surrounding the ownership of said paintings that the entire collection has been on display in the gallery – a terrific triumph for the cultural movement in Ireland.
Also featured are paintings by artists such as Antonio Mancini and George
Russell, adding to the overall grandeur of such a wonderful display of art.

Entry to this exhibition is free, although donations are encouraged, which allows for casual observation of these great works by anyone who takes even a passing interest.

For many who venture in to take a glance, the highlight of this exhibit is Renoir’s Les Parapluies, a painting which captures a scene familiar to all those who reside in Ireland – an umbrella-crowded street.

The great variety of works on show here creates a vibrant demonstration of art in Ireland. From the left bank and right bank of the Seine to the south side and north side of the Liffey, Impressionist exhibitions never fail to gather a growing number of art aficionados when they are put on display. Given the quality and quantity of Impressionist work on show in the Hugh Lane at the moment, anyone with even a passing interest in art would be mad to miss it.

Hugh Lane 100 Years runs in The Hugh Lane Gallery until 31 December.