Access to this exhibition is included in the Ulster Museum general admission ticket:
Taking Renoir’s La Loge (1874) as its centrepiece, this exhibition explores the Impressionists, through refocusing attention on their position as agitators and anarchists outside of the established art system. Though they have become household names and are cemented within mainstream art history, it is easy to forget that their style of painting was revolutionary and their decision to group together and exhibit in 1874 an act of defiance against the art establishment, the state and what was even considered ‘art’.
Impressionism was concerned not with portraying an exact replica of a scene, but rather an ‘impression’ of unfiltered, natural light and colour, sacrificing detail, and using unmixed pigments, fleeting brush strokes and suggestions of shape to convey an image. The Impressionists endeavoured to capture real life, and this new art came at a time when life itself was rapidly changing in France, with Paris at its epicentre.
The Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III known as the Second Empire ended in 1870. Many years of political upheaval followed, including the revolutionary Paris Commune: a radical socialist and anti-religious government that ruled the city from 18 March to 28 May 1871. The first government of the Third Republic of France then gained control of Paris, and this new era lasted until the Nazi occupation in 1940.
The Impressionist works in this exhibition have been loaned to us under the Courtauld National Partners Programme, part of the Courtauld Connects transformation project. Samuel and Elizabeth Courtauld are synonymous with Impressionism and helped ignite the popularity around the style through their avid collecting. Samuel Courtauld gifted the majority of his paintings to the public in 1932 but held a number of works back for his enjoyment, including La Loge which he purchased in 1925. It entered the public collection following is death in 1948.
Find out more about the programme here.
Events and further information
Use Smartify to discover more stories behind each artwork. Download the app and select any work to find out more, or press play for the full audio tour.