On the opening day of this exhibition, the anxiety was palpable. Understandable enough after lock-down yet restricted visitor numbers led to an almost desolate atmosphere in the new Winkler galleries. Beautifully designed they may be, but the Winkler galleries are yet to grow into themselves, retaining the chilly atmosphere of the uninhabited new-build. The petrol blue walls were not the happiest way to off-set the sixty paintings on loan from the Ordrupgaard Museum, Denmark.
Paul Gauguin, Portrait of a Young Girl (Vaïte ‘Jeanne’ Goupil), 1896. Oil on canvas. 75 x 65 cm.
That said, the paintings represent a good enough slice of Impressionism, although perhaps a little cheeky to make Gauguin the eponymous hero - only four of works his are on view here. Yet it is always a joy to observe Gauguin's muscular use of colour and pared down-form; he is undoubtedly the star of the show. The rest are rather also-ran, apart from a wonderful Matisse still life and Manet’s ‘Basket of Pears’ and a Cezanne study of bathers.
Édouard Manet, Basket of Pears, 1892.
Paul Cézanne, Women Bathing, c. 1895.
In the context of this last artist, it is a great shame that the Royal Academy has cancelled ‘Cezanne: the Rock and the Quarry Paintings’ due to open this July. It was scheduled to feature some miraculous constructions from this master of two-dimensional space. No reason is given for the cancellation and we are the poorer for not having access to this interesting take on Cezanne’s fixation with geology.
Paul Cézanne,Trees and Rocks, Near the Château Noir, 1900-1906. Oil on canvas. 61.9 x 51.4 cm. Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Museum purchase from Cornelia Ritchie and Ritchie Trust No. 4. Inv. 1996.2.20.