Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy of Arts

‘Painting The Modern Garden’ at The Royal Academy of Arts is undoubtedly one of London’s most stunning exhibitions of 2016. We visited last week and were truly taken aback by the beauty of the paintings on display. While Monet is at the centre of this exhibition, there are works by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse and Klimt to name a few. The exhibition promises to help you see ‘the garden in art with fresh eyes’ and its doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly the natural garden subject seems to have enabled many of these avant-garde artists to work with a greater freedom than before, freeing their palettes and their brushstrokes. Throughout he exhibition you are greeted with Monet’s stunning gardens until ending in a grand finale; Monet’s great pastel coloured waterlily paintings.

The exhibition opens with a beautiful comparison - Monet's 'The Artist's Garden in Argenteuil' (pictured below left) is placed beside Renoir's painting of Monet painting in the very garden in Argenteuil (pictured below right). This sets the tone for the exhibition, an affirmative statement about the impact Monet had on his fellow impressionists and hints that he influenced not only the garden subject matter but the act of painting en plein air.  

There are some beautiful works by a less famous name, Spanish artist Santiago Rusinol. His paintings are more structured than the Impressionist works on display and convey spectacular modelling of light, like this work below which evokes the brilliant glow of sunset. 

We thought it would be lovely to also share with you some images of Monet's garden in Giverny. These are the gardens Monet spent nearly forty years in his house in Giverny, a period many argue were his most creative. In 1883 he and his family rented the house with its 2 acre land and by 1890 he had saved enough to buy it and the surrounding land. As an avid gardener himself, Monet worked alongside his gardeners and created precise designs and layouts for his garden's planting, resulting in a stunning display. Over time he built up the land, eventually buying a water meadow which he plated up with water lilies. These became the subject of his best known works and the water meadow is now one the garden's most popular features.