Sunday, 16 June 2024

Brushstrokes Beyond Canvas: Unveiling Delightful Surprises in the Impressionists on Paper Exhibition at the Royal Academy

Brushstrokes Beyond Canvas: Unveiling Delightful Surprises in the Impressionists on Paper Exhibition at the Royal Academy
Tuesday, 21 November 2023 22:10

"Redefining Impressionism: Unveiling the Unexpected Charms of 'Impressionists on Paper' at the Royal Academy"

In a world where Impressionism on canvas might be dismissed as predictable, the Royal Academy breaks the mold with its latest exhibition, "Impressionists on Paper," curated by Christopher Lloyd and Ann Dumas. Dispelling the notion that works on paper are merely preparatory sketches, the exhibition asserts that, during the late 19th century, these pieces gained autonomy and stood shoulder to shoulder with traditional paintings.

The Burlington Gardens showcase unfolds in a series of spacious galleries, each revealing delightful surprises that challenge preconceived notions. Notable among them is a captivating charcoal drawing by French Symbolist Odilon Redon, featuring human-headed flowers emerging surreally from a vase. Equally intriguing is Vincent van Gogh's depiction of a roadside patch of thistles, its dots and dashes seemingly translatable into Morse code.

The exhibition introduces lesser-known yet wonderfully frilly artists such as Hippolyte Petitjean and Federico Zandomeneghi, offering a fresh perspective on the Impressionist movement. While some names may be unfamiliar, the collection features the crème de la crème of Impressionism, including Edgar Degas' mesmerizing dancers, each figure meticulously outlined with both economy and command.

Paul Cézanne's watercolor of flowerpots basking on a Provençal terrace radiates with the shimmering heat of a summer day, showcasing the diverse range within the Impressionist movement. One of the exhibition's triumphs is its ability to spotlight artists like Camille Pissarro, whose work, often dismissed as drab, takes on a new light and appreciation in this carefully curated display. "Impressionists on Paper" proves to be a revelation, breathing fresh life into a familiar genre and prompting a reconsideration of artistic legacies.

"Drawing the Unseen: A Unique Prelude to Impressionists on Paper at the Royal Academy"

Contrary to the anticipated urban frenzy, the opening of the exhibition surprises with the tranquility of a pastel masterpiece by Eugène Boudin, capturing a sunset over the sea in hues as vibrant and stripy as seaside rock. This serene introduction sets the stage for a series of unpeopled pastel landscapes and sky studies, offering a thematic approach that weaves a visual narrative through smartly grouped works.

While the uniform hanging and seemingly antiquated frames might initially suggest a pick-and-mix quality, the exhibition quickly dispels any monotony. Diverse mediums add dynamic layers to the experience, with Pierre-Auguste Renoir employing sanguine (red chalk) to evoke the grandeur of 18th-century French art. Georges Seurat, in a paradoxical twist, wields sumptuous black Conte crayon to create scintillating tenebrous effects.

Amidst this three-act drama of drawing, emerges a hero – or heroine – and none surpasses the refined touch of Degas. Always championing art's artifice, Degas excels in portraying unexpected, un-idealized moments with supreme and deft elegance. The inclusion of prominent women artists such as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot further enriches this artistic tapestry.

As the exhibition unfolds from November 25 to March 10, it promises a journey into the unseen world of Impressionists on Paper at the Royal Academy, challenging preconceptions and inviting viewers to appreciate the nuanced beauty of the drawn form. Explore more at

"In this captivating exploration of Impressionists on Paper at the Royal Academy, the unexpected tranquility of Eugène Boudin's pastel seascape serves as a poetic prelude to a visual narrative that unfolds with thematic precision. As the exhibition gracefully guides us through unpopulated landscapes and sky studies, the initially perceived pick-and-mix quality gives way to a dynamic tapestry of diverse mediums, from Pierre-Auguste Renoir's evocative sanguine to Georges Seurat's paradoxical play with black Conte crayon.

Within this three-act drama of drawing, a singular hero emerges in the form of Degas, whose refined touch and commitment to portraying the unvarnished moments of life with deft elegance sets him apart. The inclusion of prominent women artists like Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot adds further depth, challenging traditional narratives and celebrating the diverse voices within the Impressionist movement.

As the exhibition unfolds its visual narrative until March 10, it invites patrons to reconsider the often-overlooked beauty of works on paper, encouraging a nuanced appreciation for the art form. With each stroke and shade, Impressionists on Paper at the Royal Academy paints a vivid testament to the enduring power of drawing. Explore this unseen world at and discover the timeless allure of Impressionism in its most intimate and intricate form."