The man who ‘invented’ Impressionism

Few movements in the history of art feel as familiar as Impressionism. Barely a week goes by without Monet and his contemporaries generating headlines for one reason or another. Impressionist paintings attract astronomical prices at auction. Impressionist exhibitions are mainstays at museums because they offer a guaranteed way of drumming up a crowd.

Even people with a cursory interest in modern art have heard the story of the notorious show of 1874, when a group of independent French artists staged what would become known as the first Impressionist exhibition away from the official Salon. Surely there is nothing new to say about the movement that launched a thousand tea towels?

Actually, perhaps there is. Inventing Impressionism, a new exhibition at the National Gallery in London, offers an ingenious, fresh take on a well-worn subject. Following its opening, one British art critic, Richard Dorment, hailed it as the most significant Impressionist exhibition in

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