Inventing Impressionism at the National Gallery

You may be familiar with names such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. You may even think you know all there is to know about Impressionism. But an exciting new exhibition at the National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square is giving fresh insight into this familiar subject. Through 85 pieces of art, ‘Inventing Impressionism’ tells the story of French dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who nearly bankrupted himself investing in this new artistic movement in the late 1800’s.

If you’re looking for a hotel near Trafalgar Square, consider staying with us at Strand Palace Hotel — we’re just five minutes’ walk away. And if you’re arriving between now and May, be sure to make some time for this fascinating exhibition.

What to expect

The show follows the rise of Monet, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley, who, in the late 1800s, introduced a new art movement. It explores how Durand-Ruel grew enchanted by their work and subsequently gambled his money and reputation on it. He purchased around 12,000 works, including more than 1,000 Monets and 800 Pissarros after meeting them in London during the Franco-Prussian War. At the time, their work was shunned by the art establishment, but Durand-Ruel was convinced of their talent and dedicated the rest of his life to building an audience for them, creating a modern art market in the process. The term ‘impressionists’ was actually coined by critics as an insult, but today, it is a universally recognised and admired form of art.

The collection

The exhibition features 85 Impressionist masterpieces, most of which passed through Durand-Ruel’s hands at some stage. Among the works on show are five from Monet’s ‘Poplars’ series and three of Renoir’s famous ‘Dances’. It is the first major exhibition of its kind in the UK and it tells a story that was heretofore largely unknown. ‘Inventing Impressionism’ looks at the history of the style in an entirely new way — through the eyes of the art movement’s pivotal figure, Durand-Ruel.

How to visit

The National Gallery is an easy five-minute walk from Strand Palace Hotel and the exhibition runs until 31 May. It is open from 10am to 6pm daily, with late openings (until 9pm) on Fridays. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone, or you can call or visit our concierge desk at Strand Palace Hotel and we can help you organise your visit to the National Gallery. There are plenty of permanent exhibitions to see while you are there as well, including more than 2,300 paintings from13th to 20th-century artists, as well as fun family activities. If you are looking for lunch or a snack during your visit, there is a dining room, café and espresso bar to keep you going. The National Gallery has access and facilities for disabled visitors.

If you’re looking for hotels near the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, Strand Palace Hotel is just a five-minute walk away and it makes a perfect base for exploring London’s top museums and galleries.

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