Yesterday I went to the After Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery and was underwhelmed.
Perhaps this was caused by waiting in the rain in the entrance queue; or the fact that I knew virtually every picture so the impact was lost; perhaps I could not see for whom the exhibition had been designed; perhaps it was the rude way that on four occasions the gallery staff ordered me to unfurl my rather tiny torpedo-style umbrella.
There can be no doubt as to the quality on view.
Every post-Impressionist artist was there: Gauguin, Dégas, Manet – and crucially Cézanne, the bridge between the Impressionists and the Modernists Matisse, Braque, Picasso and Klimt – but why?
In 1910 and in 1912 Roger Fry and Clive Bell curated the post-Impressionist exhibitions at the Grafton Gallery to which the crowds flocked.
Goodbye the closed Victorian era – welcome innovative European art.
Although it was to some relief that this exhibition was not crowded the same impact was not there.
It was rather like going to a performance of Beethoven’ Fifth Symphony – or seeing Monet’s Water Lilies – for the 20th time. You just knew both too well.