Garden Glory amidst a bit of pushing and shoving at the Royal Academy


Perhaps the combination of great artworks centred upon the subject of gardens and gardening gets people so excited they can’t help pushing and shoving other people around, in an effort to get the best viewing point and make sure they don’t miss anything on offer.

Yesterday Clive and I wound our way through Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at London’s Royal Academy. This is an exhibit I would attend over and over and over again, if time and ticket availability allowed.

Amidst a number of well-known works by Monet, Pissarro, Bonnard, Renoir, John Singer Sargeant, Paul Klee and many others are great garden paintings on loan from private collections. What must it be like, to own a small (or large) masterpiece, I wonder? We can only dream, and buy a print or a few postcards instead.

I could have stared for hours at a small Monet from a private collection in Switzerland. However this was impossible due to the hordes passing through. The exhibition is extremely popular and getting rave reviews; perhaps too many tickets per timeslot were sold; and it became tiring and uncomfortable constantly to be dodging other people and trying to squeeze into a place to view a painting. Those who had audio guides grouped in giant masses in front of designated paintings, leaving little room for the rest of us.

I told Clive I thought the guards have the best job, as they can arrive early or stay late and wander through the rooms all by themselves.

Even in these less-than-ideal circumstances, I recommend this exhibition wholeheartedly to anyone who loves Impressionist-to-modern era art and paintings of gardens in particular.

The last room of the exhibition is dedicated to a triptych of Monet’s water lilies. The curving canvases aren’t as large as the ones at the Orangerie but to me are equally impressive in their beauty. Apparently this is the first time the three have been reunited in decades; they are on loan from museums in Cleveland, Ohio and St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.

If you’re thinking of London before April 20, be sure to book tickets for this one. No matter a few pushes and shoves, the combination of great artwork and great garden beauty makes it worthwhile.


Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s post will be from Felixstowe.

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