DR MICHAEL ADCOCK
20 NOVEMBER 2021
Dr Adcock returned to U3APP for the fourth time to present a lecture on the development of this popular art style in France that has eventually been enjoyed around the world for over 150 years.
With the intention of linking this talk to the French Impressionists Exhibition at the NGV, the Covid lockdowns ensured that for many of us it instead became our only chance to get an up-close involvement.
The talk began with the art scene current in the mid-1800s, live models, portraits or scenes representing biblical events, allegories and literary scenes. Artworks were entered in an annual “Salon” for sale, acceptance being granted to those artists whose work complied with the general practice.
Three major technical changes however allowed artists to shun the restrictions of this process.
- The development of a railway system allowed painters to get out to the countryside quickly and at little expense. So subjects such as forests, beaches, boats, villages, farms, windmills and haystacks, etc., were easily accessed, and replaced the restrictions of the studio.
- The development of paints in screw-top tubes removed reliance on mixing powders and could be applied directly onto a canvas.
- The invention of photography that could capture an image for painting at a later date.
In Victoria the parallel is that same freedom allowing our own impressionists to take a train to the north-east countryside and create the works that are now revered as works of the Heidelberg School.
The influence of the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel was highlighted for his influence in that he bought up many works of these Impressionists, selecting only the very best of those available and took them to America to be sold to institutions and private collections. A consequence of that was partly the artists’ financial well-being, the spread of understanding of what “impressionism” was, and as a consequence, the quantity of these paintings in American galleries and private collections.
Michael then moved on to some other groups or schools of painters such as the Barbizon School with Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille; and the Batignolles Group of Manet and Degas. With each he displayed appropriate works to enhance understanding.
A series of questions concluded what was an absorbing and erudite introduction to arguably the most significant period of art.
Mark Denniston – Facilitator