Inventing Impressionism, National Gallery, review: ‘the exhibition of the year’

On the outbreak of the Franco Prussian War in 1870, Durand-Ruel packed up his family and his pictures and moved to London, where for the next two years he attempted without success to sell French art to the British at a time when public opinion had turned against all things French.

And then lightning struck – not once, but twice. In a textbook example of how new art movements get off the ground, an artist whose work Durand-Ruel already had on his books, Daubigny, introduced him to the then- unknown Monet, who in turn told him about the work of Camille Pissarro.

The dealer instantly saw their potential. This exhibition explains exactly why he could understand a way of painting that so many of his contemporaries rejected. Barbizon painters worked directly from nature in the initial stages of a composition but normally finished their landscapes back in

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