tue 22/10/2019

Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900, Royal Academy | reviews, news & interviews

Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900, Royal Academy

Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900, Royal Academy

Neglected proto-Modernists? A Scottish art movement re-explored

James Guthrie, 'A Hind's Daughter', 1883National Gallery of Scotland

If you'd been a painter at the time of Impressionism, what would you have done? Rushed to Paris to become a disciple of Manet or Monet? Taken the Symbolist route with Odilon Redon or headed to Brittany to whoop it up with Gauguin and co? No, the chances are you'd probably have got it wrong and, like the so-called Glasgow Boys, hitched your talents to a now virtually forgotten figure like Jules Bastien-Lepage. Jules who? Exactly.

The impression is of a lot of admirable craftsmen working diligently away, though elements of a kind of scratchy, northern equivalent to Impressionism are apparent

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I have a painting dated May 1871--by A.E. Brown--One of his works is in the Munich gallery--Please, can you give me any information--It has hung in my home for 40 years, having purchased it at a yard sale--

I find it hard to believe that a person so ignorant of art history should actually be paid to write about art. I suggest Mark Hudson go away and read a bit more about 19th century art before risking making pronouncements on it in public. Bastien Lepage was a hugely successful and influential artist both during his tragically short life and after. Just a couple of years ago he was the subject of a major exhibtion at the Musee d'Orsay and continues to be regarded as one of the best painters of his generation by almost everybody who has seriously picked up a paint brush. The whole idea of reading art history backwards to try and identify which artists contributed to the birth of modernism is ridiculous and only made possible by a completely one eyed view of both the 19th century and current day art scene. Impressionism was merely one strand and one of the minor ones at that in an incredibly rich and complex period for art. In 1884 Bastien Lepage was a towering figure compared to relative minnows such as Monet and Renoir. If Mr Hudson had read anything on the period beyond other newspaper reviews he would know this and if he ever picked up a brush and tried to paint he would begin to understand why.

While I admire the passion with which David Thompson makes his points, I fear he hasn't read the whole of my review and missed its essential point. He refers to the fact that 'Impressionism was merely one strand and one of the minor ones at that in an incredibly rich and complex period for art.' If he troubled to read the 5th paragraph he would see that I praise the exhibition for not 'pandering to the Impressionism good, everything else bad view of the late 19th century' and 'gives a sense of the sheer complexity of that pivotal moment.' None of that, however, makes Bastien-Lepage a great or even a good artist. His 'Poor Fauvette' is terrible tosh. He may have been rated at the time as a titan beside 'minnows' such as Monet and Renoir, as Mr Thompson claims, but history has reversed that view - and rightly. The history of art is full of figures who had massive reputations in their day but are now little esteemed. While Mr Thompson claims that 'reading art history backwards to try and identify which artists contributed to the birth of modernism is ridiculous', genuflecting before the critical estimations of the past, simply because they are of the time, seems even more idiotic. Mr Thompson implies twice that I shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion on this exhibition because I have never 'picked up a paintbrush'. As a matter of fact I have a degree in painting, which has no bearing on my right to express an opinion on this exhibition or anything else.

I saw the exhibition and have read a lot of reviews and many mentions of cabbages, but I'm unconvinced. I'd say the hind's daughter was in field of Brussels sprouts, of which the tops can of course be eaten (perhaps by the family when the sprouts them selves have been sold.

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