British collectors were much slower than their French, Russian and American counterparts to perceive the beauty and greatness of Impressionism. Textile magnate Samuel Courtauld was an exception: his enthusiasm for Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley, as well as Degas, Gaugin and Cézanne, led to the formation of one of the greatest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world.
He also founded, in 1930, the Courtauld Institute of Art, to which he bequeathed most of his paintings – now on show in the grand eighteenth-century surroundings of Somerset House – and left a bequest to the National Gallery to assist with the purchase of Impressionists. So here in Trafalgar Square, at the other end of Strand, there is now an excellent group of Impressionists, the result of private bequests, long-term loans and occasional purchase.
Artists working in Britain such as Whistler, Sargent, Sickert and Steer also engaged with aspects of the Impressionist movement. In 1889 Steer and Sickert even staged an exhibition entitled London Impressionists. The final session of the day will be at Tate Britain where several works by these and other artists are displayed.
Historian, writer and broadcaster. He studied at UCL and the Courtauld and was senior lecturer at Christies Education for many years. He has worked for the Art Fund, Royal Opera House, National Gallery, V&A. He has published on 19th- and early 20th-century painting and on historical vocal recordings. His latest book is Music Wars: 1937–1945.
10.15am at the Courtauld Gallery.
c. 5.30pm at Tate Britain.
£190. This includes entry to the Courtauld, gallery donations, mid-morning and mid-afternoon refreshments, lunch at the National Dining Rooms and travel by taxi between the venues.
Maximum 14 participants.
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